Sleep Review interviews David C. Weiler, GSEC, CCNA, CIO/ security officer at Precision Diagnostics, and Kevin Asp, CRT, RPSGT, CEO and founder of Sleep Technology Institute.

WellerAs the lines for sleep studies stretch out the door and around the corner, many facilities remain understaffed, according to David C. Weiler, GSEC, CCNA, CIO/security officer at Precision Diagnostic Services Inc, Fargo, ND. Sleep Review spoke with Weiler about how outsourcing services such as scoring and interpretation can help make up for the reported shortage of RPSGTs and sleep physicians.

Q. What is the biggest challenge facing sleep programs today?
According to recently published reports and the results of our own national survey, availability of qualified staff is the number one challenge and obstacle for sleep service growth. Laboratories and centers face unreasonably large backlogs and attempt to increase their services, and new laboratories struggle with start-up due to staffing issues. At last report, there were only 5,008 RPSGTs in the world, and only 1,946 physicians have achieved board certification since the first examination in 1978, leaving less than that number still practicing today.

Q. How does your company’s Digital Courier service help in overcoming staffing challenges?
We eliminate geographical and technical boundaries. Digital Courier service includes secure Internet transfer of patient files, online scoring, and online physician review. Our services create a virtual work environment for clinicians. Technical and professional staff can serve multiple facilities from any location.

This kind of efficiency allows for more patients to be studied, diagnosed, and treated while maintaining the quality of the program by utilizing credentialed professionals. All sleep studies can be scored by an RPSGT if desired and interpreted by an ABSM diplomate no matter where the study is acquired. Outsourcing services, such as scoring and interpretation, is now easier and more secure since the service providers need only Internet access and do not need resident software matching the acquisition site.

Q. What should laboratories and centers be concerned about most when considering outsourcing?
It is important to consider the history of the individual or company providing the service. They also must be able to answer these questions: How will patient data be transferred? How quickly will the desired results be obtained? What experience in moving data in a clinically efficient manner and system reliability does the outsourcer provide? What are the assurances that data is being safeguarded and encrypted? How is the patient information being archived?

Q. How does Digital Courier stay up to date in the always-changing sleep technology world?
At Digital Courier we bring together clinicians, engineers, and marketing people to develop services for our customers. This cooperative approach to product development includes feedback from our customers on existing products and suggestions for improvements and future products.

We are committed to investing in research and development to ensure easy-to-use, leading-edge technologies to meet the needs of our customers and help facilitate positive changes in direction for the sleep industry.

AspIn busy sleep facilities, physicians can quickly run short on time and money for sleep scoring. Kevin Asp, CRT, RPSGT, president of Sleep Technology Institute Ltd (STI), Sugar Land, Tex, spoke with Sleep Review about the benefits of contracting with an outside scoring company.

Q. What is the biggest challenge sleep specialists face when opening a new sleep facility/laboratory?
The supply of registered polysomnographic technologists (RPSGTs) still does not meet the demand. It is critical to have an RPSGT on staff or available for consultation with a new start-up. The desired technologist should also have management experience as well as business sense to assist with the necessary marketing, education, and branding issues that are faced with new start-ups. Sleep physicians should also be aware of the significant overhead costs associated with the testing component of sleep disorder centers.

Q. How can they overcome this challenge?
By contracting with a company that has experience and a proven track record of successfully building new sleep centers. STI has helped many new start-ups by providing the technical/business expertise necessary to develop a successful sleep center program. STI also provides turnkey solutions for physicians and/or hospitals looking to start a new sleep disorder center.

Q. What is the biggest benefit of outsourcing sleep scoring?
Cost and service. Once a backlog has occurred, it can be very difficult and costly to resolve by utilizing your existing staff because of overtime pay. The delays can also reflect poorly on service as perceived by the referral base. Developing a relationship with a quality outsource for your scoring needs will address both of these issues. The expenses are reduced by minimizing overhead and benefit costs, and the service of your facility to your patients and referral sources is significantly improved with reduced turnaround times.

Q. Your company provides a private network that connects sleep facilities to your main office. What are the main advantages of this?
We can provide same-day scoring turnaround times to our customers who use our services. There is no cost for the setup and configuration to our network, and the PSG data is transmitted to our office within minutes. The process meets and exceeds HIPAA requirements and we can also provide real-time virtual technical support.

Our customers have access to RPSGTs to assist with difficult titrations, artifact resolution, and clinical anomalies. Our on-call RPSGTs can access the customer’s system within seconds, view the data as it is being acquired, and provide the solution to resolve the technical issue at hand. This is very helpful for new start-ups or existing centers with new staff.