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Easier, Faster Diagnosis and Treatment
How we understand and treat sleep apnea has undergone significant change in the last several years. We now know that obstructive sleep apnea is linked to significant comorbidities, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease.
However, until now, the assessment and treatment of sleep apnea has been a drawn-out, often costly and cumbersome process for the patient. With our new combined model, CVS Health will make convenient, high-quality sleep apnea care available to patients at our local, retail locations.
The Need for Change
Typically, the diagnostic process is triggered when a patient visits their primary care doctor because they or their bed partner noticed symptoms – sleepiness during the day or when driving, loud snoring, restless sleep, or waking up with a choking or gasping during sleep. A confirmed diagnosis typically involves an overnight testing at a lab, where they are hooked up to sensors that monitor sleep quality throughout the night. This can take some time to set up, and for the results to be shared with the patient. If the results are positive, the patient would have a follow-up diagnostic visit with a sleep specialist, and then go to a lab for a titration study to get fitted with a sleep apnea device, which relieves the symptoms and enables better sleep. The patient would then need to find a medical equipment provider to purchase the device and initiate treatment.
The process often takes months and multiple visits to different providers including primary care physicians, specialists, and sleep labs, among others. Each step – and potential delay – is an opportunity for the patient to stop the process and not get the diagnosis and treatment they need, leaving a potentially serious condition untreated.
A New Approach to Treating Sleep Apnea
The CVS Health approach is simpler, faster and puts the patient’s convenience and health at the forefront through our HealthHUB store locations. Our streamlined solution for the assessment and treatment of sleep apnea is already being piloted in three MinuteClinic locations. By the end of the year, we expect it to be available in more locations around the country.
Our streamlined solution begins with a convenient sleep assessment at MinuteClinic. Based on the assessment, the provider can order a home sleep test, if appropriate, through a third-party vendor. The home sleep test provides the necessary information for diagnosis without requiring that the patient make an appointment with a specialist or spend a night away from home at the sleep lab. Following testing, results are interpreted by an independent, board-certified sleep physician and the diagnosis, if any, is shared with MinuteClinic providers. The patient returns for a follow-up visit at MinuteClinic to review the results and receive information about continuous positive airway pressure – or CPAP. CPAP devices and supplies are available at the HealthHUB locations.* At the HealthHUB, patients can get help with selection of masks and supplies and receive education on proper use and maintenance of their equipment. Patients will continue to receive ongoing support, monitoring and follow-up from the care team at the HealthHUB.
The entire process from initial screening to starting CPAP therapy – including the test and diagnosis – can be accomplished in about eight days rather than several months that the current process typically requires.
Our aim is to make sleep apnea care more convenient and accessible, so that patients can get the support they need, have a better experience, and improve management of their condition and symptoms, keeping them on their path to better health while lowering overall costs.
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* Insurance and cash options are available for the sleep assessment visit (MinuteClinic), home sleep test and diagnostic interpretation (3rd party vendor), and follow-up visits (MinuteClinic). Some restrictions apply. Customer should consult with MinuteClinic for details. Patients diagnosed with sleep apnea via the MinuteClinic process or elsewhere have the option to fill the CPAP prescription at CVS Pharmacy for cash only (including FSA/HSA) at this time.