This is a developing story. Bookmark this page for future updates. If you haven’t already, take the survey below so we can continue to update the results over the coming days.

Survey: Due to COVID-19, In-Lab Sleep Studies Being Replaced by Home Studies or Postponed Indefinitely (as of 3/24/20 at 9:00 am)

By Sree Roy

To limit the spread of the coronavirus to sleep disorders center workers and to patients, as well as to conserve personal protective equipment for emergencies, just under half of facilities (45%) report that they have stopped doing any in-lab studies, according to Sleep Review survey results (n=259). Forty-five percent also report changing at least some patients from in-lab polysomnography to home sleep testing. Thirty-six percent say they have stopped doing in-lab titration studies specifically, 21% have stopped loaning out their home sleep testing (HST) devices, 20% are doing more mail-order home sleep tests, and 20% have lessened or eliminated hands-on patient education about how to use a HSTs. (Respondents could check all that applied, so results add up to more than 100%.)

Unfortunately, these changes mean that sleep professionals are increasing finding themselves without income. More than 50% report that they are likely to or are already experiencing personal cash flow problems (57.8%) and over a quarter say they will likely be out of a job soon (27.7%); about 1 in 10 reports that they will have problems renewing their credential due to the cancellation of in-person conferences (9.6%). But 42.2% expect or already have been transferred to a different department at their healthcare facility.

Survey: Sleep Medicine Facilities Have Trouble Procuring Personal Protective Equipment, Telemedicine Services (as of 3/19/20 at 11:45 pm)

By Sree Roy

Like many other healthcare facilities during the coronavirus pandemic, sleep medicine facilities report needing to buy more personal protective equipment (PPE) but are having trouble finding it available for purchase due to high demand.

Sleep Review survey results (n=205) show that 68.2% of sleep professionals report buying or trying to buy more PPE. But in a response to a followup question that asks what products, equipment, or services they have been unable to procure so far, many responses are similar, with respondents indicating that items such as “masks,” “N95 masks,” “PPE,” “masks and alcohol gel” have been challenging or impossible to obtain. Consumer news outlets such as CNN report that some healthcare facilities have resorted to making their own personal protective equipment, as the government works to increase production of needed supplies.

Another area where some sleep medicine facilities are finding themselves without needed resources is the area of telemedicine. About 30% of respondents indicate they are trying to buy telemedicine equipment, software, and/or services; however, “telemedicine” was a common response to the open-ended survey question about what sleep professionals are having trouble procuring.

In a separate survey question, half of survey respondents (50.8%) say their facilities are not equipped to do telemedicine patient appointments. The facilities that have the capability are rapidly switching patients to telemedicine visits: 45.8% of respondents say followup appointments are being switched from in-person to telemedicine; 26.6% say new patients are being seen via telemedicine, 14.1% say that patients who show symptoms of coronavirus are being switched to virtual appointments, and less than 1% say that they are not switching patients to telemedicine because their telemedicine appointments are already full. (Respondents could check all that applied, so results add up to more than 100%.)

Survey: Most Sleep Medicine Facilities Remain Open, with Increased Precautions (as of 3/18/20 at 12:15 am PT)

By Sree Roy

About two-thirds of sleep medicine facilities (including sleep disorders centers and private sleep medicine practices) remain open, though sleep professionals anticipate more of them closing by the end of March, according to preliminary results of a Sleep Review online survey (n=15) about the coronavirus pandemic. Of the about one-third of respondents who indicate that their facilities have already closed, most are not sure when they will be able to reopen their doors to patients.

Sixty percent of sleep professionals report that their facilities have changed their cleaning/disinfection practices in response to the crisis, such as disinfecting surfaces on an increased and more regimented schedule as well as having workers don personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves. Unfortunately, some respondents indicate that they are having trouble procuring personal protective equipment due to high demand.

Sleep professionals report buying (or at least trying to buy) the following in increased amounts:

  • Personal protective equipment (81.8%)
  • Surface cleaners/disinfectants (72.7%)
  • Disposable sleep study equipment, such as disposable electrodes (45.5%)
  • Telemedicine equipment/software/services (36.4%)
  • Home sleep testing devices (18.2%)
  • Sleep therapy devices, such as CPAPs (18.2%)
  • Ventilators specifically (9.1%)

Just under 50% of respondents say their work schedules have not changed. 20% are working fewer hours at their employer’s behest; 20% are working fewer hours electively; and 13.3% are working extra hours during the pandemic.

About 13% of respondents are not experiencing patient cancellations above their norms. About a third say patients cancellations are slightly up and about a third say cancellations are up significantly.

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Sleep Review is gathering and sharing data on pandemic-related impacts to sleep medicine practices and sleep disorders centers. We would appreciate it you—sleep specialists, sleep disorders centers managers, sleep technologists, dental sleep medicine practitioners, and others—take the short survey below. Bookmark this page, as we will update it as survey results become available.