When you run a sleep center you will come across patients who have a number of doubts. While some of them are likely to be about specific issues the patient is going through, there will be others that almost all patients ask. Here are a few of the most frequently asked patient questions and tips on how you can deal with them:
Patients who suspect that they have a sleep condition should first meet their primary care doctor. Ask them to visit the doctor they usually go to. Inform them about what they are likely to be asked during the consultation. Most doctors ask about sleep patterns and alertness during the day. Doctors base their diagnosis on these details. In case a patient shows signs of a sleep condition, the doctors will refer him or her to a sleep center for an evaluation. Inform the patient that the evaluation will be followed by a sleep study.
Once a patient has been diagnosed with a sleep condition, he will have to go in for treatment. The most common treatments are quite simple. The patient may have to change his daily lifestyle to include exercises, adopt stress management techniques and follow a healthier diet. Reassure the patient that these are not likely to require him to make drastic changes.
A few patients may require surgery or medications. In that case, have the patient's primary health care provider look at his report. The physician may call him in for a consultation. Discussions about these situations are generally done face-to-face.
The patient should be told that sleep studies generally take place overnight. During that time, physiological activities that take place when the person is asleep are recorded. The patient should be told about the equipments that will be used. When they know what to expect in a sleep study, they will be able to adjust to the change in sleeping arrangement. Patients should be informed whether studies take place in a private room at the sleep center or at their home. Some patients will want to go for the option of getting the recordings done at their home.
It is possible that some insurance plans may not cover sleep studies. Patients should be directed to find out whether their plan covers the sleep center costs or not. The best person who can give them information about this is the insurance provider.
Depending on your center's policy, patient results may get posted directly on an internal system or sent to a primary care physician. Based on this, patients will have to be told where they can find the results of their sleep study. If it is posted online and it is a secure system, assure patients about it. In case the results are assessed and forwarded along with recommendations to the primary health care provider, the patient will have to know who he should meet - the health care provider or the physician at the sleep center.
Give the patients a list about what they should and should not do on the day they come in for the sleep study. Here are some of the points that should ideally be on the list:
In addition to the points mentioned above, parents will have to keep in mind a few more. Based on your sleep center's policy, inform parents whether they will be allowed to stay during the study. If they can, let them know what will be expected of them. For instance, they may have to take care of a few responsibilities like administering medicines and food, and changing diapers if the patient is an infant.