Why Sleep Doctors Should Care about Patient CPAP Therapy Compliance
Patients are a tricky bunch sometimes. Like a fingerprint, each patient is different and requires unique treatment in order to live a healthy life.
Doctors around the country recommend that patients follow their medical treatment regimens. However, they often find out that their patients simply misunderstood, forgot, or ignored the doctor’s instructions. A correct prognosis and diagnosis can be made on a patient’s behalf, but ultimately it is up to that patient to follow the healthcare advice from their doctor.
It isn’t uncommon for patients to avoid advice from their practitioners, but Sleep Doctors specifically have been struggling to find a way to have their patients adhere to their treatment plans.
This usually isn’t from a lack of education, funds, socioeconomic status or any demographic factors, but rather because people just don’t like their treatment plan. And these people aren’t to blame.
Read on to see why patients shouldn’t be blamed for non-compliance when it comes to CPAP therapy.
What you'll learn from this guide:
• How Do Sleep Doctors Treat Sleep Apnea?
• About Sleep Apnea
• Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea
• Why Don't People with Sleep Apnea Use CPAP?
• Why CPAP Discomfort is Hurting Compliance
• How Compliance Helps Sleep Doctors & Respiratory Therapists
• How Comfort can Help Patients Adhere to CPAP Therapy
• Why RemZzzs® CPAP Mask Liners can be the Solution
How Do Sleep Doctors Treat Sleep Apnea?
These doctors and specialists are medically trained to diagnose and advise on therapies to aid sleep disturbances and disorders. They specialize in helping patients with sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy, and other lesser-known conditions. Simply put, these medical professionals help patients understand their sleeping habits so they can get an optimal night’s sleep.
These doctors typically don’t have issues with compliance, unless it’s dealing with patients that have sleep apnea. Of the most common types of sleep disorders, sleep apnea is relatively easy to diagnose but rather difficult to treat. But it’s not the fault of the sleep doctors.
About Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a disorder where someone either pauses in their breathing or has shallow breathing when they are asleep. This result in poor sleep quality, and when returning to sleep, still failing to get a good night’s rest. This disorder is more common in men and can last a patient’s entire life. It can result in a vicious cycle of chronic fatigue that can last a lifetime.
If gone untreated and undiagnosed, patients with sleep apnea can have a higher risk of developing diabetes or obesity.
There are two primary kinds of Sleep Apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea -- more common disorder where throat muscles relax during sleep, causing the soft tissues to collapse into the airway, resulting in reduced oxygen intake and poor sleep quality
- Central sleep apnea -- where there is no physical blockage in the airway, but the brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing, also resulting in reduced oxygen and poor sleep quality
There are cases where people can have both obstructive and central sleep apnea, called Mixed Sleep Apnea or Complex Sleep Apnea but it is uncommon in most patients.
Regardless of what type of sleep apnea you might think you have, you should visit a doctor if you suspect you’re suffering from this sleep disorder. If not treated, it can cause hypertension, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, and it can even be the cause of car accidents from driver’s falling asleep at the wheel.
Learn more about the Sleep Apnea diagnosis to can take the first step towards getting a better night’s sleep.
Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea treatment sometimes has to do with lifestyle changes to help patients lost weight and reduce blood pressure. Treatment for this disorder always involves some type of device, most commonly: CPAP devices.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is considered the gold-standard treatment option for sleep apnea. It’s highly effective at alleviating the symptoms of sleep apnea. These devices act as a ‘pneumatic splint’ to prevent airway collapse.
With continued air pressure keeping the upper airways open, CPAP devices help patients all around the world get a better quality of sleep. People that use their CPAP devices regularly experience improved sleep, leading to less tiredness and exhaustion during the day.
So why are patients non-compliant with this form of treatment?
Why Don't People With Sleep Apnea Use CPAP?
A study from 2008 showed that CPAP devices are great for treating sleep apnea, but “a significant proportion of those diagnosed either do not initiate or eventually abandon therapy.”
Is it from a lack of understanding the consequences of sleep apnea? That’s not likely, as they’ve taken the time to get adequately diagnosed and now possess a CPAP device. Why go through those steps if you don’t already have a firm grasp of the health risks?
Could it be a failure to follow the sleep doctor’s or sleep specialist’s medical instructions? Potentially. To alleviate their symptoms, patients must wear an obtrusive mask while sleeping. But there are many other questions that are important to understanding but the patient might not have the proper understanding to ask. Consider the following questions as examples:
- How long should they continue to use the device?
- Which device should I get? Will my insurance cover it?
- Can they reduce usage once their symptoms are alleviated?
- What do they do if they find the mask uncomfortable? Are there options?
All of the above questions have the potential to go unanswered from the patient’s perspective.
The same 2008 study mentioned above study points to some potential reasons why patients are non-compliant, but they point to CPAP discomfort as one of the most common factors.
Why CPAP Discomfort is Hurting Compliance
Due to the complex nature of sleep apnea, modern masks simply aren’t comfortable enough.
Let’s take a step back and think about why this is. CPAP devices are noisy, somewhat bulky (depending on the type of mask), and the masks aren’t well suited to be worn all night. They are mostly made of silicone or plastic, which doesn’t feel good on the face for extended periods of time. The device constantly blows air through the mask, but if the mask isn’t worn properly or if it doesn’t fit the patient’s face, they could experience issues, such as air leaks, causing them to wake up.
With all of those issues, some patients might actually experience far worse sleep than they ever had before. And if they continuously experience worse sleep with the treatment that they were prescribed to sleep better, it makes logical sense for them to discontinue using their CPAP device. In this case, compliance isn’t the same as successful usage.
If patients don’t use their device for therapy, they will continue to struggle with sleep apnea. Without this device, their symptoms will not go away. Usage of this device is critical. However, patient discomfort often gets in the way of adhering to this helpful therapy, and sleep doctors or even respiratory therapists will be unable to help that patient. That means that insurance companies will not reimburse the payor for this DME.
How Compliance Benefits Sleep Doctors & Therapists
Showing proof of compliance within the first 90 days allows insurance providers to provide reimbursement. Furthermore, the completion of a 12-13 month period of acceptable compliance generates an even greater amount of profit. As such, it is in the best interest of the sleep doctor or respiratory therapist to help their patients comfortably use their CPAP equipment and supplies.
CPAP devices are typically $1,500 to $3,500 out-of-pocket, and while most of the time health insurance will cover CPAP device costs, it is always best to check with your healthcare insurance provider. Some insurance policies and plans will have different rules for durable medical equipment (DME).
What does it mean to be compliant with regard to CPAP therapy?
Truth be told, there really isn’t a solidified definition. Some studies make their own, but the most commonly applied requirement for CPAP compliance is for Medicare.
Patients must use their device for at least 70% of the time over a 30-day period, for at least 4 hours a night. If this usage standard is met, the patient can continue to have Medicaid pay for their device. The devices usage stats are collected on an SD card or another format. This allows doctors to see just how active their patients are in their CPAP therapy.
This means that if the patient sleeps an average of 7 hours a night over a 30-day period, they’ll be sleeping for 210 hours. In that time, they need to use their CPAP device for 147 hours. That’s a significant chunk of time!
How Comfort Can Help Patients Adhere to CPAP Therapy
There are a lot of alternatives that respiratory therapists and sleep doctors suggest when a patient says they don’t like using their CPAP device. They suggest different style of masks, different shapes or sizes for the CPAP interface, and even toying with the pressure settings. What they all get wrong is that they don’t solve the root problem: the masks aren’t comfortable.
These people suffer from the following:
- Noisy air leaks
- Red lines and creases when waking up
- Dry skin
- Even worse sleep habits
All of these issues can be solved with RemZzzs® CPAP Mask Liners.
Why RemZzzs® CPAP Mask Liners can be the Solution
RemZzzs® CPAP Mask Liners allow patients that suffer from sleep apnea to actually use their device.
No more red lines, air leaks, or other annoyances when patients sleep with CPAP. They’re made of hypoallergenic cotton that fits right over your device’s mask and helps to absorb facial oils and moisture. Patients can even use skin lotions and moisturizers with RemZzzs®!
Patients suffering from sleep apnea have a solution for the “problems of leaking, noise, skin irritation, discomfort, and frequent awakening” that doesn’t simply involve the purchase of a new mask. (Curious about what people are saying about RemZzzs®? Check out our patient testimonials for many examples of how RemZzzs® is helping people sleep better with sleep apnea.
If sleep doctors introduced CPAP therapy to their patients with RemZzzs® CPAP Mask Liners, their patients will be much more likely to remain compliant. This means that patients will start sleeping better, eliminating the risks of heart disease, diabetes, and other serious health disorders. It even helps sleep doctors and therapists realize a different revenue stream from medical insurance reimbursements.
Additionally, if respiratory therapists and doctors provide RemZzzs® CPAP Mask Liners, they’re more likely to see what liners are the best size for that patient. This eliminates the need to order larger or smaller sized mask liners for a better fit with the CPAP device’s mask.
Each box comes with a pack of 30 liners and are offered at wholesale pricing for sleep professionals, according to the quantity purchased. We recommend that they to use a new mask liner each night for the best possible results.
There’s no denying that CPAP and respiratory therapies are lacking certain therapeutic elements. That was before RemZzzs®.
RemZzzs® will help you and your mask become friends. Our patented design acts as a barrier between the skin of the patient’s face and the silicone of the mask’s cushion, virtually eliminating all of the most common problems associated with wearing a CPAP mask. And best of all, it’s very comfortable!
Patients that suffer from sleep apnea no longer have to shop around for different masks that won’t make their CPAP therapy more comfortable.
Ready to see how RemZzzs® can help patients use their CPAP device? We'd be happy to ship you some free samples right away! Request a free trial by clicking here.