There is little doubt that the year 2020 will be remembered for the devastating Covid-19 pandemic and the way it has negatively affected our world in ways many thought unimaginable just a short while ago. And while we could comment on the travel restrictions or the difficulties of attending large gatherings, we decided to close this year in a positive way, highlighting favorable trends that are currently happening within our space as well as celebrating the success we were able to achieve during this challenging time.
The changing landscape of sleep studies
For most patients in years past, it was more common to complete a sleep study at a facility rather than at home due to several factors. Estimates showed that approximately 70% of sleep studies were done outside the home. However, for the last couple of years, we began to see a gradual decline in the number of PSG tests being requested versus HSAT.
With Covid-19, the ratio has completely flipped, with 70%+ HSAT tests being administered vs ~30% for the more common PSG. At Itamar®, we are hopeful that over time, this ratio will move to a 50-50 split between PSG and HSAT. We also are aware that the better our diagnostic process, the more we can positively affect patient conditions and outcomes.
Our WatchPAT® ONE made a huge difference during this crisis and we are excited to see so many sleep clinics see it as their primary choice for their patients, selecting it first over other competitors in the marketplace.
Looking at CMS reimbursement
On the subject of CMS reimbursement – with the recently announced 2021 physician fee schedule, we are happy to note that HSAT reimbursement code 95800 which WatchPAT® falls under with its PAT® technology and sleep time was not affected compared to the dramatic (-13.9%) reduction in current rates for competitive Home Sleep Apnea Testing (HSAT) devices. This should also provide additional confidence to WatchPAT® users.
WatchPAT® technology was recently validated thanks to a study published in the December 2020 edition of Nature and Science of Sleep. Entitled ‘WatchPAT is Useful in the Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation’, the study concluded that WatchPAT®, based on PAT® technology can diagnose sleep apnea events in AFib patients with and without nocturnal active AFib episodes with accuracy similar to the general population, with significant correlation to PSG testing outcomes. 101 patients from the US, Canada, Germany, and Israel took part in the use of WatchPAT® against in-lab polysomnogram (PSG) testing in the diagnosis of sleep apnea in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF). The study concluded that WatchPAT is a viable alternative to PSG for confirmation of clinically suspected sleep apnea that is based on peripheral arterial tone signal’s amplitude and rate, oxygen saturation, and actigraphy.
Advancing sleep technology
Finally, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) awarded the team at Itamar® Medical with the 2020 SleepTech® Award. This honor recognizes our innovative efforts in advancing sleep technology while addressing the needs of consumers during this difficult time.
“We are honored and delighted to receive the 2020 SleepTech® Award and to be recognized by the NSF for our achievements in the field of sleep medicine and technology. Sleep Apnea is a serious disease with serious consequences. We are very proud of the home-based innovative technology and the digital health platform we have built to deliver simple and reliable solutions for the diagnosis and management of this condition,” said Gilad Glick, CEO, Itamar Medical.
With 2020 almost behind us, we are now looking forward to continued success in 2021. As we move forward with the increased demand for home sleep testing, stable CMS reimbursement compared to airflow HSAT devices, and the clinical validation and awards our technology has garnered, we see a bright future on the horizon.