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Banking on Shut Eye: Hospital Opens Sleep Medicine Program

Ben Cole, for HealthLeaders Media, March 29, 2010

Milton (MA) Hospital, an affiliate of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, has entered a partnership with Sleep HealthCenters to develop a sleep medicine program that officials say is a response to increased awareness about how sleep deficiencies impact health.

Through the program, Milton has a sleep medicine clinic where patients with possible sleep disorders can meet with a specialist and get diagnosed for their affliction. There is also a diagnostic lab where people can sleep overnight if their symptoms warrant a sleep study. If a study is needed, staff observe the individual's sleep during the night and patients can have a follow-up visit on-site with sleep specialists.

"We've made it a comprehensive program where essentially it is a one-stop shop . . . rather than having patients seek out services elsewhere, it's meeting the needs of our community base," says Cynthia Page, PT, MHP, vice president of clinical and support services for Milton Hospital. "We're maintaining the service line within our hospital, so we definitely are increasing our capacity through a service line to meet the needs of our community."

Milton Hospital developed the sleep medicine program because of the need and physicians suggesting a program, Page says.

Sleep HealthCenters already operates a sleep lab with Beth Israel, and the partnership with Milton Hospital "was just a really good fit," says Paul Valentine, CEO of Sleep HealthCenters.

"We have programs that kind of surround that area, but aren't necessarily in that specific marketplace," Valentine says. "So it was a nice opportunity to work with them to build a stronger sleep program for that community. The concept here is to provide long-term care, to provide it all in one place, and to provide consistent follow-up."

In addition to conducting sleep studies, Sleep HealthCenters provides physician consults, patient monitoring, patient education, and follow-up care for Obstructive Sleep Apnea patients, including Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Devices.

Sleep HealthCenters operates several sleep medicine programs in New England. "In this case, Milton is billing for the program and helping to build the referral base, but we'll also help them market to their referral provider community, in addition to their patient community," Valentine says.

Both Valentine and Page say that sleep disorders have become quite prevalent in recent years.

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