The prevalence of sleep apnea has made home sleep testing a viable solution for patients to reach a timely diagnosis. VirtualSleep.org explores the benefits of home sleep testing and its impact on the industry.
What is home sleep testing?
Home sleep testing is the process in which a sleep apnea patient uses a device for an at-home sleep study. Compared to in-lab polysomnography, patients have the comfort and convenience of taking the test in their own home.
Benefits of Home Sleep Testing
Home sleep testing has many benefits over in-lab polysomnography for both providers and patients given that 26% of the United States population between 30 and 70 suffer from sleep apnea.
Provider Benefits of Home Sleep Testing
Healthcare providers, especially sleep doctors, are tasked with treating many different conditions. Home sleep testing enables providers to focus on more chronic conditions in the lab while allowing patients to administer home sleep tests to determine the severity of their sleep apnea. Sleep lab technicians are also freed from scoring sleep studies, as the latest home sleep testing technology has automated scoring functionality.
Additionally, home sleep testing combined with telemedicine allows appointments to be conducted virtually. Beyond the virtual appointments, telemedicine appointments enable providers to increase their reach and serve patients who otherwise might find it too difficult to make it to the office.
Patient Benefits of Home Sleep Testing
Sleeping in an uncomfortable environment may make it difficult to achieve optimal results. Home sleep testing offers comfort and convenience to patients who can take the test from their own home. In addition, a smartphone application makes it possible to track real-time data and get results much quicker.
Given that the test is administered in a comfortable location, home sleep tests can be more accurate than in-lab sleep studies for sleep apnea patients. The integration with a smartphone application makes it easy to share data with a physician to determine next steps in treating sleep apnea, or potentially a more serious sleep disorder.
Further Reading: Why Home Sleep Testing is Preferred for Sleep Apnea
Disadvantages of Home Sleep Tests
Although a home sleep test has proven to be effective for sleep apnea diagnosis, chronic sleep disorders may require an in-lab polysomnography for further evaluation. Sleep labs have more equipment and resources to produce an in-depth analysis of a patient’s sleep.
Provider Disadvantages of Home Sleep Testing
While there are many advantages to home sleep testing, there are disadvantages for providers too. The simplicity of the at-home test doesn’t provide nearly the same number of reports that an in-lab study could provide including brain wave activity.
Testing for more metrics can allow for a more comprehensive diagnosis, should the patient’s condition be more severe than obstructive sleep apnea.
Patient Disadvantages of Home Sleep Testing
The comfort and convenience of taking the test in a patient’s own home is great. However, patients may not necessarily be properly trained or one of the sensors may become disconnected overnight, rendering the test invalid.
Errors in self-administering the test can mean that a patient may have to take the test more than once which can be a frustrating process. Another frustration is that there isn’t around-the-clock support. However, new home sleep test units will incorporate support functionality to ensure that patients have the answers they need to complete a successful home sleep test.
Further Reading: Overcoming 3 Challenges of Home Sleep Testing
Home Sleep Testing with DreamClear
The volume of sleep apnea cases among United States adults makes home sleep testing a viable alternative to an in-lab polysomnography. Providers can focus on more chronic sleep conditions, while patients can take the test from the comfort of their own home.
A home sleep test device that’s easy-to-use and connects patients and doctors with a smartphone application can be the difference in quickly reaching a sleep apnea diagnosis. To learn more about using DreamClear™, start a conversation with our team today.