Don’t Snooze on the Benefits of Digital Health for Your Sleep Medicine Practice
Getting enough sleep might seem like a luxury, but doing so is important for your overall health. Not only has insufficient sleep been linked to a long list of chronic health conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, dementia, depression, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes, but it’s also associated with stress, anxiety, smoking, sugary drink consumption, workplace pressures, and financial concerns.
Those are just the costs to your health. The National Institute of Health states that sleeplessness creates $16 billion in annual healthcare expenses and $50 billion in lost productivity.
Although it has only been around for a few decades, the practice of sleep medicine has experienced dramatic growth. It now consists of multiple medical and surgical specialties, from neurology, pulmonary medicine, psychiatry, and otolaryngology to dentistry, anesthesiology, and bariatric surgery. Doctors trained in sleep medicine come from different clinical backgrounds and practice in a variety of settings.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, there are more than 80 chronic sleep disorders, including conditions such as sleep apnea (obstructive and central), insomnia, narcolepsy, somnambulism (sleepwalking), circadian sleep disorders, and restless leg syndrome. About 50 to 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder, even though many are undiagnosed.
Sleep medicine clinicians don’t solely rely on polysomnography — that’s the official term for a sleep study — even though there are hundreds of thousands of them conducted annually. Some diagnose and treat problems with the ear, nose, and throat that contribute to sleep disorders. Others focus on the mental and behavioral issues that contribute to sleep problems. For some physicians, sleep medicine occupies only a portion of their practice.
How to Provide Your Patients with the Convenience They Prefer
Although sleep medicine medical groups might not deal with health issues as urgent as those in internal medicine and critical care, they often face many of the same operational and administrative issues. Examples include extensive clinical documentation, long wait times, outstanding collections, revenue cycle errors, regulatory compliance, patient acquisition and retention, employee turnover, and increasing costs.
Like other physician practice areas, an increasing number of sleep medicine providers are relying on digital health to expand their care while offering patients the convenience they have come to expect. Take wearables, for example. Remote patient monitoring through these devices is utilized by sleep medicine physicians to enable patients to undergo polysomnography from the comfort of their homes.
Telehealth is another digital health tool for sleep medicine providers. Physicians and other sleep medicine clinicians don’t perform sleep studies through this modality, but they can review polysomnography results with patients, discuss available treatment plans, and respond to prescription refill requests.
For some providers, telehealth is a favorable option because it enables them to see patients in their own homes and discover any environmental factors that might be affecting their sleep. Patients like being able to sign online from anywhere and avoid coming into the office.
There’s even research about the efficacy of telehealth for sleep medicine. Some studies have shown that the advantages of brief and cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia delivered via telehealth are similar to those delivered via traditional in-person office visits.
Source: Sleep Medicine Clinics
Then there’s patient online scheduling. When sleep medicine practices offer this option, patients can view their provider’s appointment availability at any time and avoid spending unnecessary time on the phone. Digital check-in takes the convenience a step further by allowing patients to register from their mobile devices at any point before their appointment. Along with higher patient satisfaction, this means less administrative work for a medical group’s front office staff.
Whether you’re part of a medical group that specializes in sleep medicine or provide these patient services as part of your overall offerings, contact us today to see how the digital solutions of Kyruus+Epion will enable you to reduce your administrative burden and increase patient engagement and satisfaction!