Hospitals Waking Up to Sleep Centers

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , March 16, 2011
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Graymark has partnered with 73 hospitals and nearly two dozen outpatient centers to provide sleep care, especially for sleep apnea. In July 2010, it added two new sleep centers at the Goodall-Witcher Medical Center in Central Texas and the Henderson Community Hospital in Nebraska.

Graymark is hoping to expand sleep medicine programs, particularly in rural areas. “Goodall-Witcher Medical Center is very pleased to be able to offer sleep centers locally,” says Clarence Fields Jr., FACHE, president and CEO of the hospital. “Previously patients would have to travel to Waco or other distant areas for these services.”

“It is amazing how many individuals I see on a regular basis with sleep disorders,” says Kenneth Lowrance, APRN, a family nurse practitioner and vice president at Goodall-Witcher. “One cannot underestimate the value and importance of high-quality sleep in optimizing one’s ability to function and in improving their overall quality of life.”

Through the hospitals, the patients buy CPAP masks through Graymark. There is a wide range of costs for CPAP equipment, often depending on the needs and desires of the patient. “The higher the price, the more bells and whistles, or a new model,” Nelson says. About $5 million in sales were reported in 2010, and that is expected to rise to $7 million in 2013, Nelson says. He noted that the supplies are reimbursable by Medicare, though the funding has been on a “downward trend. As we continue to educate the public, I expect reimbursements to stabilize because of the diagnostic test,” Nelson says.

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