Dear AASM Members,
I want to provide you with important updates about a few AASM initiatives related to out of center sleep testing (OCST) that will empower sleep centers to successfully navigate the changing landscape of sleep medicine.
Revised Standards for Accreditation of OCST
First, the AASM has completed a comprehensive revision of the Standards for Accreditation of Out of Center Sleep Testing (OCST) in Adult Patients. The revisions strengthen the standards in areas such as HIPAA compliance, personnel, equipment maintenance, data reporting and quality assurance. These changes ensure that patients will continue to receive the highest quality of care from OCST suppliers.
I believe that AASM accreditation is more important than ever before, especially as the U.S. health care system continues to move in the direction of outcomes based medicine. The AASM is unwavering in our message to insurers and other stakeholders that board certified sleep medicine physicians and the team at AASM accredited sleep centers are uniquely qualified to provide high quality, coordinated and cost effective diagnostic and therapeutic services for patients with a sleep illness such as OSA.
I encourage you to download the new standards and review them with your sleep center staff. The revised standards take effect immediately for new applicants, and facilities that already have earned OCST accreditation will have until Aug. 1, 2013, to become compliant with the new standards. Please contact the AASM Accreditation Department at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
New Program Designates Approved OCST Suppliers
The AASM Board of Directors recognizes that sweeping changes in the health care system and the insurance market are having a dramatic impact on the practice of sleep medicine. Policy makers are focusing on cost containment and efficiency in every aspect of health care. As a result, insurance carriers are directing more and more patients who are suspected of having obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) to OCST instead of in-lab polysomnography.
These changes have swept across some regions of the country already, and I am certain that all of us will soon feel the impact. The recent events in Massachusetts have taught us that our sleep centers have to be nimble; we need to be able to respond quickly to change.
The current business model of your sleep center may allow you to seamlessly integrate OCST. But the reality is that some sleep centers will not have the time or resources to quickly implement a successful, in-house OCST program. Outsourcing the logistics of some OCST functions may give your sleep center the flexibility that you need to adapt successfully.
To help sleep centers navigate through the rapidly changing health care landscape, the AASM has adopted an Out of Center Sleep Testing Policy Statement that involves a process for designating Approved OCST Suppliers. These suppliers are companies that offer to perform specific technical components of OCST for you. These services may include patient training and distribution of OCST equipment; patient support during testing; equipment retrieval, cleaning and maintenance; data scoring; and the secure transfer of test data.
If you determine that it is beneficial for your sleep center to contract with an outside OCST supplier, then our new program will help you select a company whose services meet AASM accreditation standards. Companies that apply for the Approved OCST Supplier designation must complete a thorough application process, which includes a site visit, to verify that its policies and procedures are consistent with the AASM standards for accreditation of OCST. With numerous companies offering OCST testing services, the designation of an Approved OCST Supplier will give you confidence that your contract arrangement will enable you to maintain the high quality of your patient care.
The new policy also ensures that the board certified sleep medicine physician remains at the center of care. The Approved OCST Supplier will be required to provide the entire raw data recording obtained from the sleep test for interpretation by the sleep physician. The board certified sleep medicine physician and the sleep team at the accredited sleep center will then manage the long-term care of the patient.
Keep in mind that this is an optional program designed to ensure that you have the best choices available as you consider how to implement or expand OCST in your sleep center. Look for much more information about this program on our website in the coming weeks.
Other New Resources
The AASM is finalizing an "Out of Center Sleep Testing Integration Guide" that will soon be available to members. The guide will present you with three different business models to review when considering how to add OCST to an existing sleep center. This will jump start the OCST integration process so that your sleep center can quickly and effectively conceptualize, develop and implement an OCST program.
In January the AASM launched a Practice Management page on the AASM website, where you will find sleep-related coding and insurance resources. The webpage will equip you with valuable information about recent and ongoing changes in the way private payors cover sleep services.
The AASM will continue to keep you updated as additional practice management and continuing education resources related to OCST become available in the weeks and months ahead.
Sam Fleishman, MD