In recent months many of us have been learning new economic lessons about supply and demand.  Insurers in some regions of the country have dramatically increased the demand for out of center sleep testing (OCST).  As a result, sleep centers are faced with the challenge of supplying OCST services to meet this demand.

Implementing an OCST program forces a sleep center to adopt a new business model.  Such a change also requires a significant capital investment in new equipment.  Yet sleep centers don’t always have the time and resources needed to adapt quickly to this new diagnostic paradigm.

That is why the AASM recently developed standards and began to evaluate national suppliers that offer to provide OCST services for sleep centers.  The AASM’s recent OCST Policy Statement and answers to FAQs on the AASM website provide more details about this new designation for approved national suppliers of OCST. 

How does it work?  Take a look at this OCST Supplier infographic for a helpful overview.  As you can see, the national supplier simply handles the logistics of OCST, such as equipment distribution and retrieval.  The board certified sleep medicine physician at the AASM accredited sleep center remains at the center of care:  evaluating the patient, ordering the test, interpreting the results, making the diagnosis, and overseeing all follow-up care for the patient.

Click to view full-sized chart

AASM accredited sleep centers aren’t required to follow this model. It simply gives you another option as you evaluate your sleep center’s position in your market.  After considering the options that are available, many sleep centers will choose to develop an in-house OCST program.

Regardless of the model you choose, remember that the accredited sleep center is responsible for ensuring that all OCST services performed on its behalf are in compliance with the Standards for Accreditation of OCST.  These standards were updated in February, so I encourage you to download them and review them with your staff.  The revised standards are effective immediately for new applicants, and facilities that already have earned OCST accreditation have until Aug. 1, 2013, to become compliant.