Rules of engagement: CPAP provider goes high tech

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

SCARBOROUGH, Maine - The road to CPAP compliance can be challenging, but one provider is using technology to pave the way for patients.

"No one wants to sleep with a mask," said Eric Cohen, president of National Sleep Therapy. "Our job is to engage that patient, and transform them so they are excited, eager and motivated to be on therapy."

It's paying off. The provider in May released data that showed nearly 90% of its patients meet Medicare compliance standards, compared to a national average of about 50%.

It's all down to technology, says Cohen, who spent a year developing National Sleep Therapy's model, which includes a proprietary software system to track patient data in real time. That allows the provider to intervene when a problem, like a leaky mask, crops up. While many CPAP providers offer comprehensive follow up during the first critical months of therapy, Cohen believes patient support should be ongoing.

"Whether it's in 90 days or five years, we can see who is going to need help and we can reach out to them," he said. "Our system is set up so if they start to drift off the road, we can find it quickly and push them back on."

One recent addition to National Sleep Therapy's high-tech toolbox: iPads. At the initial visit, patients use the iPads to watch informational videos and go through a checklist of what they are expected to learn and understand during the visit. The whole idea is to empower and educate the patient, said Cohen.

"From a visual and tactile point of view, the iPad engages them in the educational session you are about to deliver," he said. "(But it also) says to them, 'You are going to control this meeting.' To say they like it is an understatement."