Are you searching for a local sleep clinic to assist you in diagnosing and treating your sleep disorders? Or perhaps you work for a sleep clinic and want to know how you can help provide the best quality care possible for your patients. Whether you're a future patient or a current employee of a sleep clinic, we've compiled a list of "must have qualities" of the best sleep disorder clinics.
A Commitment to Patient Care
Patients are the heart of any sleep clinic and helping them diagnose and treat their sleep troubles should be listed as the most important aspect of operating a quality practice.
Many patients who schedule sleep studies are at their wits end with losing countless hours of sleep due to their conditions and are desperate to find a solution. Helping patients through the diagnostic and therapy procedures should be the primary focus of any great clinic.
And in order to achieve quality patient care, a sleep clinic must have a trained professional staff, provide patients with exceptional education, have a compliance program in place, and have the patient's best interests at heart.
Having knowledgeable and adequately trained staff is the backbone of any sleep clinic. Without great staff there wouldn't be a capacity for providing quality care to patients.
Whether you're having a sleep study or purchasing DME supplies, having staff with proper training and certifications is paramount to quality patient care. All technologists administering studies should have their registered polysomnographic technologist (RPSGT) credentials.
Because sleep medicine is a dynamic and constantly evolving field, it's important that all technologists pursue continued education. Fortunately, in order to maintain credentialing, RPSGTs are supposed to accrue 50 continued education credits (CECs) over a five year period.
Going to a sleep clinic where the technologists are often enrolling in online training and participating in educational conferences means that the patients get techs familiar with the latest news, information, and training on the current standards and practices, as well as being familiar with the newest technology.
Has Accreditation from the AASM
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) is a professional society dedicated to setting the standards for practice in the field of sleep medicine. The AASM establishes professional standards, provides education, and supports research.
Sleep clinics that carry an AASM accreditation have proven that they demonstrate a commitment to the provision of quality diagnostic services and long-term management of sleep patients as outlined by the AASM's professional standards.
Accreditation ensures that sleep medicine providers display and maintain proficiency in areas such as testing procedures and policies, patient safety and follow-up, and physician and staff training.
Provides Patients with Quality Education
First-rate sleep clinics don't just help diagnose patients with sleep disorders, hand them their prescribed therapy devices, and send them on their way. What clinics need to be doing is focusing on patient education. There should be a focus on communication and opening up a dialogue between patients and staff.
Office administrators should be guiding patients through the processes that lead up to a sleep study including educating them on how to prepare for their sleep study, explaining scheduling procedures, clarifying payment policies and insurance verifications, and giving them resources to be successful with therapy.
The technologists administering the studies should adequately explain the procedures of the study including what occurs, what equipment is involved, what the equipment measures, what is expected of the patient, and also what the patient can expect from the technologist.
Sleep clinics that have high quality websites centered on being an amazing resource for their patients is a must. A great sleep clinic has online resources for patients that include being able to schedule visits online, contact staff for questions and clarifications, purchase CPAP supplies, discuss procedures and policies, list common sleep disorders along with recommended diagnostic measures and therapies, have free dowloadable e-books full of useful information, have access to necessary paperwork to fill out prior to studies, and have timely articles pertaining to all aspects of sleep and sleep health.
It's been proven that patients who are well informed of their disorders and the importance of continued therapy will be much more successful in their treatment. Patients who are rushed through a study, handed a machine, and turned loose are more than likely to give up therapy in a few weeks. Beyond education, a patient compliance program should be established...
Have a Patient Compliance Program
Approximately 55% of patients given CPAP equipment will fail to maintain therapy after only a few weeks. Some find the mask uncomfortable, the air pressure difficult to deal with, or don't experience results quick enough to believe it's working. That's why having a compliance program in place to help those patients who just need a little extra incentive to maintain therapy is a must have for all great sleep clinics.
The best sleep clinics conduct follow-ups and offer wireless monitoring. Here's a breakdown on what patients should expect from quality sleep clinics in the first 30 days of being issued their DME supplies:
48-72 hour follow up calls addressing questions such as:
Is your mask comfortable?
Is the airflow comfortable?
Are you using your machine regularly?
Are you experiencing any problems?
Have you had any leaks?
Are you experiencing claustrophobia?
30 day follow up addressing the questions above but also:
How is your quality of sleep?
Has your daytime drowsiness gone away?
Is your mood and attitude improving?
Is your quality of live improving?
Many sleep disorder clinics also offer wireless monitoring of patient's equipment to verify CPAP compliance. With wireless monitoring a sleep technician is able to remotely monitor your equipment to check for leaks, usage rates, adjust pressure settings, and more. Wireless monitoring is often used for 6 months and helps keep patients active with their therapy. They will be alerted if there are any problems with their machines or when they need to replace parts and filters.
It's been proven that if a patient can stay compliant for the first 6 months of therapy, they are far more likely to remain compliant long term. Most important, studies have shown that long-term compliance with CPAP can be predicted as early as 3-7 days. This means that addressing many of the issues with CPAP adherence should be addressed early on.
What to do next
When you're ready to have a sleep study performed by a quality sleep clinic (and you live in the state of Alaska) contact The Alaska Sleep Clinic by clicking on the link below. Our highly trained staff and facilities hit every single mark on this list and more. You can be assured that not only will we give you the best patient care possible, we will be with you every step of the way through your treatment, and work hard to help you solve your sleeping troubles.