Sleep apnea might affect a quarter of the population, numbers that are only likely to increase as the population keeps aging. And these people with sleep apnea have elevated health risks that not only decrease their quality of life, but they also make them five or six times as likely to die of any cause than people without sleep apnea. How do we start dealing with an epidemic of this magnitude?
CEO and president of Sleeptest.com, Ryan C. Javanbakht explained to Dental Sleep Medicine that we have to start by making sure every patient has access to a sleep test. About 85% of people with sleep apnea are undiagnosed, and it’s impossible to start tackling this epidemic with that level of uncertainty. That’s why President Javanbakht is encouraging us to develop a “No Patient Left Behind” movement.
Restricting Access to Sleep Tests
Unfortunately, many recent changes in sleep medicine have reduced patients’ access to sleep tests. One is the addition of Sleep Medicine as a subspecialty of Internal Medicine. This makes it harder for doctors to become sleep physicians. Unfortunately, this has reduced the number of doctors becoming sleep physicians each year, potentially not enough to replace those who retire or otherwise choose to stop seeing sleep patients.
At the same time, some state dental boards have started to restrict the ability of dentists to get sleep tests for their patients without the intervention of a sleep physician. Even with specialized training, dentists are being stopped from getting sleep tests for their patients.
The combined impact of these effects was to put more barriers between patients and the sleep tests they need.
Starting a Movement
Overcoming these challenges requires more than just educating patients. Instead, dentists need to take a frontline role in diagnosing and treating sleep apnea and other airway-related breathing disorders. But that doesn’t mean going alone. Change can only be effective when dentists work together with other dentists and with those of other professions to see that there’s a new and better way to accomplish these goals.
That’s what President Javanbakht means when talks about the “No Patient Left Behind” movement. He means that people who are dedicated to ensuring every patient has access to a sleep test need to work together across disciplinary boundaries to make real change. The goal is always to improve patients’ health and quality of life by helping them get the tests they need to seek and receive treatment.
Make a Change to Improve Your Patients’ Lives
Every movement starts with a simple act. For you, that can be making the decision to find an easier way for your patients to get their sleep tests. At Sleeptest.com, we can provide that. With an online referral, your patients can have the results of a sleep test in about a week after requesting one. They don’t need to visit another office, nor do they need an online consultation, unless their insurance company requires it.
Learn how we can help you get more sleep tests for your patients by contacting us today.