How to Tackle Staffing For Home Sleep Testing
What are some staffing considerations to keep in mind when working with HST?
Although sleep labs across the nation had several years to adjust to the changes that come with working with home sleep testing, many sleep centers have yet to use portable monitoring to their advantage.
The good news? There's still time for sleep clinics to adjust the way staffing for home sleep testing has been addressed at your clinic.
If you are already offering HST in your program or are considering doing so there are two ways this will affect staffing: how you utilize HST in your program, and how to rebrand services and products based on the assimilation of HST into your program.
The AAST has been the top resource for sleep technologists on how they should address staffing considerations for implementing a new HST program.
Take for instance an article we published in the July 2012 issue of the A2Zzz that was authored by Brant Steffes, RST, RPSGT, who wrote the following:
There are many concerns about home studies, some of which are lower reimbursements, quality and accuracy of diagnosis, the effects on lab profitability, and staffing needs of the sleep facility.
For home studies to be effective there must be a balance to ensure that patients receive a high quality of care while the sleep center maintains profitability.
First, from the patient perspective, the choice is almost always going to be the home study.
After all, not many of us would prefer to sleep away from home and away from our comfortable beds.
Second, the cost to the patient of the home study versus the in-lab study is much more feasible, especially for self-pay patients or those with high-deductible coverage plans.
Most of us know the pitfalls of giving the patients the keys to running the diagnostic equipment, and it can be very frustrating from a sleep professional perspective.
For those of us with an implemented home study program, frequent unusable home study results are sometimes the case. Units returned with errors in flow, SpO2, respiratory effort belts, or even not being turned on all together are common. What may seem like an easy process during the clinical staff instruction, actually can end up looking like a Rubik’s cube of confusion once the patient is at home.
The patient would obviously choose home over a lab for cost savings and home comfort alone; however, the home study process may result in the patient feeling overwhelmed and possibly leaving the patient misdiagnosed.Having proper screening criteria for acceptable patients is a must.
From a provider’s perspective, the home study in lieu of in-lab study encompasses many factors.
Things that must be considered from the clinical office are:
- Cost of home study units and profitability
- Staffing needs
- Patient screening criteria
- Liability, to include potential for false negatives and misdiagnoses
- Lower and denied reimbursements from insurance companies
To learn more about staffing recommendations for sleep facilities that want to expand their home sleep testing capabilities watch this online (CEC eligible) module on staffing considerations for sleep centers by AAST Immediate Past Present Rita Brooks, RPSGT, MEd, RST.
Sleep technologists, how have your staffing needs changed since you offered HST? Learn more about maximizing the value of your HST program by adhering to the standards the HSAT manual offers.