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Pandemic solidifies role of telemedicine in sleep care, according to new paper

Pandemic solidifies role of telemedicine in sleep care, according to new paper

DARIEN, Ill. – Sleep medicine has proven to be a specialty that can offer complete and quality care remotely, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine says in a recently published position paper

While the technology to remotely connect doctor and patient has been in place for years, its use was limited until the pandemic, when CMS lifted restrictions on telehealth reimbursement and private companies followed suit. 

“Delivering care during the pandemic has proven to providers and insurers that telemedicine offers patients safe, secure and effective sleep care,” said Dr. Douglas Kirsch, chair of the AASM Telemedicine Presidential Committee, which wrote the paper. “The AASM will continue to advocate for permanent coverage and reimbursement of telemedicine services with CMS and third-party payers.” 

The paper, which was published online in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, addresses several key issues in the delivery of sleep care using telemedicine, including quality and value, privacy and safety, health advocacy and future directions. 

The paper shares new evidence that telemedicine is effective in the diagnosis and management of obstructive sleep apnea and improves adherence to CPAP therapy. The paper also acknowledges opportunities for improvement in the adoption and use of telemedicine, including compliance with patient privacy laws, additional training for providers, and awareness of limited access among disadvantaged populations. 

“Telemedicine improves access to care, but we need to be cautious that its use doesn’t introduce new health inequities in underserved communities that may lack the necessary technologies,” Kirsch said. “Improved connectivity and increased access to high-speed Internet need to grow together with telehealth expansion.”  


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