A new grant will explore using telemedicine in the diagnosis and care of individuals with sleep apnea. The project will be led by Michael Yurcheshen, M.D., associate professor of Neurology and Medicine, and sleep medicine specialist at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
An estimated 2-4 percent of people in the U.S. live with obstructive sleep apnea; a medical condition in which restricted air flow can interrupt sleep. This condition is often managed by a specialist, and there are a number of treatment options. Suspicion for sleep apnea is raised by interviewing and examining a patient in an office setting. A sleep test ultimately confirms the diagnosis.
Currently, a major barrier to care is access to care. Board certified sleep specialists are uncommon, even more so in rural or remote areas, meaning that patients in many areas of the country must travel long distances for their care.
A new $20,000 grant from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine will help establish a pilot study allowing Yurcheshen and his colleagues to compare the accuracy of care that patients receive via telemedicine to those who see a doctor in the traditional office setting.
The goal of the study is to see if telemedicine can be used to effectively diagnose and deliver care to obstructive sleep apnea patients. Results from the study will help to develop a telemedicine care model that can be replicated across the country. As health systems like UR Medicine expand their networks and clinical programs across a greater geographic area, telemedicine programs for sleep apnea and other conditions allow patients to receive their care closer to home.
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