Lack of sleep is expensive. According to Eric Cohen, co-founder and president of National Sleep Therapy (NST), the annual cost to employers in lost productivity, accidents, and medical expenses is estimated at $60 billion. The cost of medical care for a person who is treating their sleep apnea has been shown by recent industry studies to save over $3,000 per year as compared to someone who does not seek treatment.
Cohen says it’s important for patients to have two key pieces of information before making any healthcare decisions including use of CPAP: (1) understand the condition and treatment, and (2) understand the cost.
“From the outset, people want to know exactly how much treatment will cost to help them make good health care choices. We’re just treating people the way we would like to be treated—with honesty, respect, and the freedom to choose what is right for them,” says Cohen in a release. “They should not make decisions based on finances alone. We provide a full explanation of costs and what is covered by insurance–along with emphasis on the enormous value of the therapy. Patients can weigh their options. Many CPAP providers don’t think about this; they set up patients with a brief training session, and then send them a bill. That’s not right. We give them the costs up front plus a thorough education that can last up to a few hours.”
NST works with physicians and sleep centers to raise compliance using advanced clinical protocols. Compliance rates run as high as 84% versus 45% to 50% for patients who don’t undergo in-depth training. One study showed 22% higher compliance for patients who track their own sleep data and fully understand how the CPAP machine works and the value of deep sleep. “Our patient satisfaction rate is 98.6,” says Cohen.
NST takes an aggressive, multitiered approach to get patients onto CPAP therapy quickly and correctly “so they won’t give up, and will be more alert, productive, and safe,” Cohen says.
Among ways that NST helps patients understand costs, meet compliance, and feel better:
- Staff handles insurance paperwork. Easy-to-follow instructions are posted on the website related to insurance and Medicare rules and forms.
- Upon setup, every patient receives an in-depth training session by a respiratory therapist (as much time as they need at no additional cost); unique iPad training better engages patients.
- Each patient can track their own data with an online account, enabling them to better manage their CPAP therapy.
- Patient monitoring—Prompt intervention by staff if compliance appears to be slipping; corrective measures are advised.
- Patients with questions can access free live video support by appointment.
- Videos and explanations always available on www.nstherapy.com.
- NST sponsors a monthly free virtual support group for people with sleep apnea and healthcare pros (www.cpaptalklive.com), featuring Q & As with sleep experts and tips from other sleep apnea sufferers.
The up-front education is working, according to NST. One middle-aged female patient wrote, “CPAP sleep therapy has totally changed my life for the better. I have suffered with uncontrollable daytime sleepiness and fatigue for decades. All that is gone now. I don’t worry about driving and falling asleep anymore, and I can go to concerts, plays, and movies and stay awake through the whole show and not be embarrassed or miss anything. My memory is amazing now, and my mind exceptionally clear. It’s as if I’ve been dog-paddling through pea soup most of my life and now I’m leaping lightly through thin air. I can’t recommend it enough.”
This past year, NST made the Inc. 5000 list as “One of Fastest-Growing Private US Companies.”