AASM launches accreditation program for home sleep testing

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

DARIEN, Ill. - Diversifying into the home sleep testing business may be a little more attractive to HME providers, now that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has given it a vote of confidence.

"It's been a long journey to get the endorsement of the AASM for any level of sleep testing that's done anywhere except in the sleep lab," said Kelly Riley, director of The MED Group's National Respiratory Network. "Now they're saying, 'If this is the direction it's going in, and it's a credible diagnostic tool, let's put some parameters around it.'"

In February, the AASM launched its "Out of Center Sleep Testing Accreditation Process."

The accreditation program comprises an application process, review and site visit. Accreditation standards cover personnel, policies and procedures, patient evaluation and care.

"If testing is just made available in a helter-skelter fashion, without any link to patient care, all you'll do is run up costs (to the health care system)," said Dr. Patrick Strollo, president of the AASM. "What you want to gain with this technology is lower cost, improved access and improved care."

Accreditation will help ensure that patient care goes beyond just getting tested, Strollo said. In a sleep center, patients provide a sleep history, helping them to understand why they are being tested. Outside of a sleep center, however, patient education can get overlooked, he said.

Another concern: What happens when a home sleep test comes out negative? A negative result could mean the test itself failed--home testing has about a 10% failure rate--or the patient doesn't have sleep apnea but may have another sleep disorder that can't be diagnosed by a home sleep study.

"If a home sleep test is done and there is no apnea, is the patient appropriately referred to a sleep center if there is significant concern for sleep disordered breathing?" he said. "(But) there may not be any further follow-up."