The Diagnostic Pathways For Sleep Apnea

Are you a dentist who has considered getting into dental sleep medicine?

Perhaps you even have a home sleep test sitting in a drawer from that event you went to. Do you remember when they told you how easy it would be to get paid for the test and the appliance using medical billing?

When was it that you forgot which drawer it was in, and it started collecting dust?

#1 Do It Yourself Model

Own and operate your own equipment, but have a physician interpret the results and provide the diagnosis (most states are eligible for this model)

#2 Let a 3rd Party Do It

Work with a home sleep study company that ships a test to a patient and provides the interpretation results to you and the patient.

#3 Let a Sleep Doctor Do It

Refer your patients to a sleep clinic for testing, and establish a working relationship with them. Ideally, this leads to the patients being sent back for OAT.

We will discuss these three options in length, but if you want to find a company that can interpret your home sleep studies, help your patients test as a 3rd party testing company, or helps train your team to establish local relationships, then you should contact Awaken2Sleep. We can help you personally with all three of these things.

If you’re not sure which model is right for you, then you should talk to a sleep coach; they will help define the best model for you based on your practice and state, define the workflow in the model that you choose, and provide actionable next steps for you to take as you start these conversations with patients.

#1 The "Do It Yourself" Model

To “Do It Yourself,” you need to own and operate your home sleep study unit. These can be purchased from a company such as Awaken2Sleep, and the unit you need will depend on your office and patient base. 

Once you own your unit, you can start testing your patients. We know that in 2017 the ADA said that dental teams should be involved in the process and that recently the AADSM has created a formal announcement of the proper workflow for a dentist who owns their equipment, so outside of individual state guidelines, we are above board in working with these.

Our typical process will be:

  1. Screen the patient
  2. Offer the test
  3. Charge for the test and send it home with the patient
  4. Receiving the test from the patient
  5. Upload the results to a Board-Certified sleep physician
  6. Review the interpreted results with the patient

Using this model allows you to:

  • Put to use the equipment you previously purchased
  • Make money on home sleep testing with an FFS or medical billing approach
  • Simplify workflow for the team
  • Reduce the barrier for entry for patients
  • Speed up the diagnostic process
  • Simplify the patient journey

If you don’t own your equipment, then this can require an upfront investment, but as most practices who use their test will say, even in an FFS model, we made all our money back in the first year.

If you need an interpretation provider for your unit or want to look at which unit is right, talk to a sleep coach.

#2 Have a 3rd Party Testing Service Do It

Some practices have not invested in owning an HST or are not ready to make that jump. There is nothing wrong with that! In a model such as this, we are looking for a company that helps us work with our patients.

If you are looking into DSM and don’t have the equipment, this is a great place to start. What are the hallmarks of a testing service?

Unlimited Potential for Testing Patients

When you work with Awaken2Sleep’s testing service, you are not restricted by the inventory of HSTs and supplies you have in your practice. Your potential is unlimited.

An average practice can find 30% of their existing patient base that needs a home sleep test within six months of implementing an effective protocol. So how many patients need a test in those six months?

How many patients can you get to say yes to a test that can change and potentially save their lives?

*Actual metrics from a practice who is working with Awaken2Sleep for screening and testing in 2020!

Zero Cost Testing Model

In this model, you also have no cost as a dental practice. That’s right; it cost you $0 to help patients with a home sleep study.

Since you are working with Awaken2Sleep to help administer the test, the patient is responsible for the payment to Awaken2Sleep. We guarantee that we will send that patient back to the office that referred them to us.

As long as a patient requests that the information is sent to the dental practice, or the dental practice submits an Rx form to us, we can share results from the test. As a company that has Board-Licensed physicians in all 50 states, there’s no place that we can’t help administer tests to patients.

Help patients, get more treatment planning conversations, make money, and change lives.

Unlimited Potential and Zero Cost

That sounds like a good deal, right?

If you want to look at workflow and see how to get started with screening and testing patients, you should talk to a sleep coach. They can help you find your first five patients, and potentially provide discounts for those who need a test.

If you want to help patients and make money, talk to a sleep coach!

Concluding the Internal Management Models

In both of the above models, our team controls the process; we can see precisely what breaks and are more likely to fix it. When we receive the diagnosis from the home sleep study’s interpretation, we have a choice to make.

If it is recommended that the patient pursues oral appliance therapy, we can proceed with a treatment plan.

If the patient is severe or showing signs of a central sleeping disorder, we can refer them to their PCP or a local sleep physician.

You can track with the patient and be involved in this process. You control the progress, and since you see the patient more frequently, you can follow up with their progress even if you are not the doctor administering treatment.

The final option can be advantageous but takes a significant amount of training and time, time that most teams don’t have, in order to get started with patients.

#3 Let a Sleep Doctor Do It

Suppose you are involved in screening because you realize that you are uniquely positioned to identify these patients, but have no interest in being involved in the process. In that case, you can send those at-risk patients to a sleep physician, and the physician’s team will administer the test and work with the patient on their treatment options.

The physicians you work with may refer those patients back for an oral appliance, but they have to be at a point in their career where they understand the efficacy and opportunity of OAT. We know that OAT is as effective as CPAP long-term and has significant results in the patient’s long-term treatment.

When we utilize this model, we need to have a system and education that works with the physician’s process. There is a process that can be followed to cultivate these relationships, but often this is a place where dentists will take their sleep programs as they discover patients who need a CPAP or further testing.

Physicians will be more likely to work with you when they know that patients have been successfully treated as a result of your efforts.

If you want to learn how to implement a multidisciplinary referral program for sleep in your practice, talk to a sleep coach.

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