obstructive sleep apnea

Successfully Treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea Patients in Your Practice

I Had Obstructive Sleep Apnea

I took a course in dental sleep medicine 15 years ago. I had myself tested and discovered I had moderate obstructive sleep apnea. I had always known that I snored loudly and it was very disruptive to my wife and her sleep. I had myself treated and, with the help of my family, it was very effective and restored my health.

I discovered there are 30 to 70 million people in the United States suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. The CDC has declared obstructive sleep apnea an unrecognized epidemic and it really is. I decided to help people gain access to the health care system through the screening and diagnosis of undiscovered patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.

I also decided to include groups of allied health professionals who had been traditionally left out of this area of treatment. I wanted to bring them into a relationship with the medical profession to tackle this immense public health care issue.

I now train many professionals, from dentists to chiropractors, so they can recognize sleep apnea, and refer patients for care. For those who want to treat sleep apnea, we train them to treat these patients within the scope of their professional practice.

Don’t Shrink Away from Treating Sleep Apnea

Dentists primarily shy away from the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea for two main reasons:

One: they are unfamiliar with the complexities of medical insurance billing for apnea patients.

Two: they have been blocked by centralized medicine from screening and treating obstructive sleep apnea because the medical profession has not recognized that dentists have very viable and effective treatment for these patients.

I will add one more concern, and that is that dentists are reluctant to treat patients who don't have insurance coverage. This makes them unwilling to bill a patient out-of-pocket for the care they need. What dentists don't realize is that the American Dental Association has recommended that dentists screen all patients for signs of airway obstruction and sleep issues. The ADA added a new requirement that dentists must perform. If you want to learn more about how to add sleep apnea treatment to your practice, check out the blog "How to Add Sleep Apnea Treatment to Your Practice."

In other words: if dentists don't screen for obstructive sleep apnea, they're actually not performing as they're supposed to. This opens dentists up to malpractice and disciplinary  actions for not screening. Even if a dentist does not treat these issues, they must screen and recognize when patients need to be referred for sleep apnea care.

Add Patients without Adding Staff

Remote patient monitoring is something that is gradually becoming more and more important to patients in our time. Remote patient monitoring can free up chair time for the patient and for the dentist. This time can instead be used to bring patients into the office that actually need hands-on treatment, examination, and care.

Procedures that can be done online or through HIPAA-compliant remote patient monitoring are extremely valuable for things like obstructive sleep apnea, sleep hygiene, Invisalign, home hygiene care, and postsurgical care.

You treat sleep patients with a remote app, such as the In Hand Dental app, by using it to follow up with them on their home care. Through the app you have the patient answer questions about the daily routine they agreed on to improve sleep health. The patient can also ask the office questions through the app, cutting down on chair time.

The patient can also use a remote monitoring device like the Sleep Balance Academy Circul+ ring. Combined with the In Hand Dental app, the doctor can see the oxygen desaturation index (ODI) scores of a patient and know the treatment is going in the proper direction.

Maximizing the Right Tools to Grow Revenue

Signing your patients up with a small monthly fee will more than pay for the app and generate ongoing monthly income because patients want access to you. With an app you will actually have your own real estate on the patient's phone that can also be used for marketing, reactivation programs and chart audits.

For instance, when you have a practice announcement, it’s easy to send out a notice to all patients subscribed to the app. You can even customize the app for your office with your logos and branding, if you so desire. If you have a thousand patients on this app at $10 a piece it generates a gross revenue of $10,000 per month.

Another revenue stream that can be developed through this process is, in some cases, your remote monitoring can qualify as a medical monitoring device for insurance purposes.

Success Using Remote Apps

Digital communications from the patient – whether it be every few days for a post-surgery patient or once a month for obstructive sleep apnea care – can and does improve patient compliance. And patient compliance is key to increasing the quality of health care you deliver. If you have a new treatment regimen that you want to roll out to the patients, you can easily do that using a remote app, to those that are subscribed. You can include the fee for the monthly use of this app in any other procedure or health care monitoring program you already administer. It might be a discount program you enroll patients in. Remote patient monitoring is a perfect adjunct to those health care plans you offer through your office.

Want to learn more about In Hand Dental? Go to our Contact Page and set up a time to book a free demo today!

Guest blogger, Dr. Richard Downs is a retired dentist who practiced in Dubuque, Iowa for over 42 years. He’s affiliated with educational companies such as Sleep Balance Academy and Online Home Sleep Study. He has a fellowship in the International Congress of Oral Implantologists and the Academy of General Dentistry, and diplomate status in the Global Mini Dental Implant Association and the American Sleep and Breathing Academy. His online business includes the manufacturer of nasal cleaning products from the USA guard.com. He started oracareproducts.com which sells the very popular and effective Oracare mouth rinse. The company is expanding into seven new countries.