Avoiding the cost of a sleep study
If you or your doctor
think you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you need to get it checked
out. Your life may depend on it. The standard diagnostic tool
is an overnight sleep study at a sleep clinic. You'll be wired up
with numerous sensors all over your body and a sleep technician will
monitor you as you sleep.
A sleep study is great if your insurance
will cover it and if you can wait several weeks for the clinic's next
available opening. But if you do not have insurance,
you're looking at a $1200-3000 medical bill. And you're probably
asking: isn't there a way I can do this at home more cheaply?
Well, some at-home diagnostic tools are
now emerging. All still need a doctor's prescription. One is the
BedBugg System, marketed by
Solutions. This consists of a bedside monitoring device attached to
three sensors: a chest sensor, a breath sensor and a finger sensor. You
strap yourself up, push the start button on the machine and go to sleep.
In the morning, the device will have collected a wealth of data that the
manufacturers claim is equivalent to the data that would have been
gathered at a sleep clinic.
Sleep Solutions says it has shipped more
than a thousand BedBuggs to patients since introducing the product in
January 2001. The price is about half the cost of a sleep study and
the company is having some success getting insurance companies to pay for
An order of magnitude less expensive
still -- under $100 -- is the
SleepStrip, marketed by an Israeli company,
SLP Ltd. This sensor attaches to the
patient's upper lip and monitors respirations overnight. SLP says the data
correlates well with formal sleep studies and, given its low cost, could
be used as a screening device to tell doctors whether a full-blown sleep
study is required.
The SleepStrip was introduced to the U.S.
last year with mixed success -- one distributor told PutanEndtoSnoring
that patients found it difficult to use, with the result that replacement
products often had to be shipped. SLP believes it has fixed the problems
and is currently seeking new distribution in the U.S.
Most recently, another Israeli company,
Itamar Medical, has received FDA approval for a device which will track your
heart rate and oxygen saturation through a simple sensor attached to your
finger. The product is called the
and it measures something called the
PAT (Peripheral Arterial Tone) signal, which apparently reflects what's going on with your autonomic nervous system.
Watch_PAT100 will be available in the
U.S. next quarter through
Respironics and will be sold to
medical centers who in turn will make it available to patients for in-home
use. Respironics believes the cost of the equipment and analysis
software is low enough that the cost per patient will be a few hundred
dollars. If the Watch_PAT100 does prove reliable in
screening for OSA, this will clearly be an attractive option for many
patients: it's a lot easier to put a sensor on your finger than carefully
position something on your face. Easier to sleep that way too.
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provided by PutanEndtoSnoring does not substitute for the
advice of your physician.