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Rochester University explores telemedicine to tackle sleep apnoea

Steve Rogerson
January 31, 2017

The University of Rochester’s medical centre is exploring the use of telemedicine in the diagnosis and care of individuals with sleep apnoea.
A $20,000 grant from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine will help establish a pilot study to compare the accuracy of care that patients receive via telemedicine to those who see a doctor in the traditional office setting.
The project will be led by Michael Yurcheshen, associate professor of neurology and medicine and sleep medicine specialist at the New York-based medical centre.
An estimated two to four per cent of people in the USA live with obstructive sleep apnoea, 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 apnoea 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 patients in many areas of the country must travel long distances for their care.
The goal of the study is to see if telemedicine can be used to diagnose and deliver care effectively to obstructive sleep apnoea patients. Results from the study will help develop a telemedicine care model that can be replicated across the country.
As health systems such as UR Medicine expand their networks and clinical programmes across a greater geographic area, telemedicine programmes for sleep apnoea and other conditions allow patients to receive their care closer to home.
Additional URMC faculty involved in the project include Ray Dorsey, Will Pigeon, Jonathan Marcus and Carolina Marcus.