Sleep Study 101
There's a conversation going on in LinkedIn revolving around this question: Does a sleep study require a doctor's order? It's been an interesting feed to follow. You would think that this is a no-brainer, right? It's a medical test, so it requires a physician's order.
But what's curious to me is why so many people even ask this question. I mean, they don't ask if they need an order for an x-ray or a lab test, so what's going on here? Is it a lack of understanding about what a sleep study is, fueled by all the media information available? Is it a lack of respect for the discipline of sleep medicine and thinking that "it's just a sleep study, I don't need an order for that"?
Or is it just a simple question. I take several calls a week for this question. My feeling is that people in general have several motivations. I think the biggest is financial. Let's face it, copays aren't what they used to be and if you add up all the required visits that are now associated with having a sleep study, it could be a car payment.
And that's only for diagnostics; we won't even talk about CPAP. I think the requirements we have to adhere to seem more like barriers to care for the patients. This was my comment to the feed. All the new requirements imposed on us by all the insurers make us look like part of the problem. I want to be an advocate for my sleep patients, not an obstacle to overcome.
I confess I feel very frustrated by the current environment in which we must operate and I don't trust insurers to have the best interest of my patients at heart, yet my hands are tied.
What to do?