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Adventures in Sleep

Tailor Talk to Improve Outcomes

Published February 10, 2011 12:44 PM by Penny Mehaffey

We all know that the preferred method of treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is CPAP therapy.  Unfortunately convincing our patients of this can be anything but easy. With the increasing demands to do more with less reimbursements, it behooves us to think outside the box to motivate people with obstructive sleep apnea to comply with therapy.

I'm sure all of you well-meaning sleep technologists just like myself have tried the usual bag of tricks, ad nausiem. One would think that reasons such as immediate improvement of oxygen saturations, or lower blood pressure after one month of therapy, or even improved blood sugars after two nights, would have most of  patients begging for "more air sir, please." But, alas, not so.

In my own practice I have turned to the world of holistic medicine and wellness gurus for inspiration. And please don't misunderstand me here, I simply believe these alternative therapies have much to offer and it is in that spirit that I am employing  a few new catch phrases. I have begun thinking about how I can give CPAP therapy a new image, and tailoring my presentation to the individual audience.

For instance, while lower blood sugars is a worthy goal, the vanity in us may be more interested in the weight loss that would follow the lowered blood sugars and stabilized adrenaline levels. And while blood pressures that are in the normal range may be our go-to carrot to dangle at our patients, they may be more interested to know that increased stamina and energy to last through the day is but a few nights of CPAP away.

What I am saying is: just as there are varied methodologies to be considered with treatments, so it is with outcomes as well.  Don't get stuck on the train of medical improvements with every patient. Really consider who your patient is and what his or her lifestyle is like, then tailor the presentation of outcomes in an order that is most meaningful to them.

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    Adventures in Sleep
    Occupation: Sleep technicians
    Setting: Various sleep facilities
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