Glennine Varga writes about the WatchPat One at-home disposable sleep apnea test and how it can increase confidence, reduce logistical problems, and increase the volume of patients.
by Glennine Varga
It was my fourth day on the job and my last day of training – Thursday, February 27, 2020, Atlanta. Most of my conversations during breaks with new work colleagues at the Itamar-Medical headquarters were about how excited I was to be headed to Europe for the first time in April 2020 with my family. However, news started to hit regarding COVID and how things may be different at the airport on the way home. Would this impact our Europe trip? Little did I know cancelling the Europe trip would be the least of our problems. On March 17, huge headlines hit Las Vegas, where I live – The Strip is Closed! I just started my new job and within 30 days, my clients (dental offices) are also closing. My wonderful work team encouraged me to keep learning about the product and helping clients as much as I could. To be honest, there really wasn’t time for me to speculate how this was going to turn out. It was panic mode time. A lot of dental teams fell apart and dental sleep medicine seemed to be at a standstill.
Then the phone started ringing – dentists called asking about WatchPAT® ONE (WP1) the fully disposable home sleep apnea test device. They asked: Can WP1 be shipped to patients? Is it possible to instruct patients remotely? Are results easily accessible? Do we work directly with physicians? Are we able to use local physicians? The answers are all YES, and I noticed an immediate shift. Dentists were pivoting!
I can’t remember the exact date on this one because I was busy with WP1 calls, but there was a day when the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) announced sleep testing should only be done with a fully disposable sleep test. That was it! We were off to the races!
In my 27 years in dentistry, I’ve been using the WatchPAT® for 18 years. I’ve seen success because it’s simple, accurate and reliable… and now disposable. To say this is a game changer is an understatement! Many centers of excellence using WP1 have found it to be much more profitable than non-disposable devices for many reasons – there is no need to track the device or clean it and prepare it for the next patient. Why limit your test device to one patient per night, and factor in travel days and ‘slow return’ patients? Now, a medical facility can hand out hundreds of tests a day and retrieve reports in the secure HIPAA compliant portal, CloudPAT®. Time is what counts the most here.
Here are three examples I’ve come across recently where a dental office uses WP1 to be a game changer for the community. I talk with many dentists working with local physicians utilizing WP1 during the screening, diagnosis, and treatment recommendation processes.
Desert Dental Group – Brett Barney, DDS, also owns what his team calls the “REO Sleep Wagon.” Dr. Barney has been providing dental sleep medicine to his patients for several years and recently has added the WP1. He feels he can provide patients an affordable way to obtain a diagnosis. He spends time in his RV mobile office visiting patients unable to visit him – recently he has been able to branch out of state. His office manager Pete says, “We received 10 referrals the first week we started using WP1, patients are willing to pay cash to know if there is an issue and how to go about managing it.” Pete says now that they have the disposable, they will be able to help even more patients. Not lending out a $5k home sleep test will allow more confidence, fewer logistical problems, and increase the volume.
Christensen Orthodontics – Bret Christensen, DDS, is one of the few orthodontists to whom I have the pleasure of providing our products. He has been using WP300 and once he added WP1 his team member Kris noticed an uptick in patient acceptance. She explained to me it was time. What once took 7 days now takes 3 days. WP1 dispensed, the next day a study is in the portal, an interpretation is made by a board-certified sleep physician, a phone call is made and soon the patient is in therapy. Kris explains with multiple office locations, WP1 really multiplies the speed of this process. There is not much time between steps which really helps the patients to choose their best therapy option.
Eugene Dental Sleep Center (EDSC) – Donald Dexter, DMD, also owner of Don Dexter Gallery. Last month, I was able to visit Dr. Dexter’s center for the first time. As I arrived, I noticed both of his businesses are listed on the building map. He explained his practice is based on ABC…Always Building Community. Including art builds community. He brings his community together through art sections, wellness presentations, and collaboration in a pleasant meeting space. The wellness presentation series is intended to bring awareness to sleep quality. Dr. Dexter says “Sleep and wellness is a two-way street, we live as we sleep and we sleep as we live, so everything that we do to improve our health and wellness will impact our sleep. Sleep isn’t simply the event at the end of the day, it’s the consequences of the day that we lived…so live well, sleep well.” Dr. Dexter feels everything he and his team do is based on building healthy patient relationships, connecting providers, and contributing to a thriving community. I will be representing WP1 at the EDSC to see Ariel Yabek, a local licensed marriage and family therapist present “Mindfulness from a Relational Model of Care: Education & Practices to Promote Connection and Wellness.” Excited to participate and happy WatchPAT® is along for the ride.
Pivot, collaborate and survive, increase your production, and focus on community through education and art. Powerful results for a home sleep apnea test – I suppose I should give some credit to the dentists and teams making this happen. Take a few minutes with your team and brainstorm how you can be creative and help your community more. We all win when we all win.
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