Sleep lab harnesses high-tech solutions

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

MIDDLETOWN, Del. - An East Coast sleep company has figured out a way to keep up with skyrocketing demand. In the past two years, Sleepcare Centers has ramped up its technology, created a paperless system and developed its own in-house software to treat sleep apnea.
In December, the Mount Laurel, N.J.-based company opened its 41st location in Middletown, Del., continuing a nine-year tradition of growth.
Sleepcare operates 30 hospital-owned sleep labs and 11 standalone sites in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey.
The standalone sites have anywhere from two to six beds and are designed to feel homey, with carpeting, patterned bedspreads and artwork on the walls.
"If we can get the patient to relax, we get the best results possible," said CEO James LaRusso.
Sleepcare does close to 20,000 sleep studies a year, he said, and accepts private insurance and Medicare, which comprises 15% of the company's revenue. The hospital labs are run on a fee-for-service agreement.
"We make it easy to deal with us," said LaRusso. "We do intake, insurance verification, precertifying, scheduling and billing."
Sleepcare operates paperlessly, allowing fast turnaround on study time and physician reports. Physicians read sleep studies and perform associated tasks online. Doctors can also track patients in real-time throughout the process.
"Either the referring doctor or the reading physician can see where the patient is in the continuum of care," said Jack Miladin, company president. "Patients don't get lost."
Sleepcare is introducing complexity studies in seven of its sites, clearing the way for patients with both central and obstructive apneas--for whom traditional CPAP and BiPAP doesn't work--to get proper therapy sooner.
"These are generally people who are sicker and have tried sleep study and interventions that haven't worked," said Miladin.
The opportunity for growth in the sleep market is out there for providers able not only to educate physicians about sleep but also to learn how to harness new technologies, he said.