System collects sleep apnea data at home

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Federal Sleep Institute

Innovation: Milwaukee provider of at-home sleep apnea testing and treatment equipment

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, a disorder that causes a person to briefly and repeatedly stop breathing during sleep.

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According to Bradley Czernejewski, founder and owner of the Milwaukee-based Federal Sleep Institute, people with untreated sleep apnea are more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and Type II diabetes. Czernejewski founded the Federal Sleep Institute last year to offer a convenient and cost effective alternative to diagnosing and treating sleep apnea patients.

“With traditional sleep lab tests you go into a facility, they hook you up to a series of wires and then ask you to sleep ‘normally,’ in a strange place and knowing that people are watching you,” he said. “Who can sleep like that?”

The Federal Sleep Institute offers an at-home alternative to traditional sleep tests that reduces the cost of diagnosis and treatment by nearly 80 percent, Czernejewski said.

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“Our at home test is safe, effective and Medicare approved,” Czernejewski said. “It requires a physician prescription, but it gets shipped directly to their home anywhere in the country and comes with a step-by-step, easy-to-understand DVD tutorial.”

There is also a hotline patients can call to talk to a certified sleep technician if they have any trouble setting up their at home test. The Federal Sleep Institute is a certified supplier of the at-home sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment technology, which is developed and manufactured by San Diego-based ResMed Corp, Philips Respironics and Devilbiss Healthcare.

“The technology has been out there. We’re just the first company to effectively utilize and streamline the diagnosis and treatment process for patients on a national level,” Czernejewski said.

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The test comes with a pre-programmed recording device, a belt, nasal cannula and pulse-oximetry sensor, all pre-connected to the recording device. Federal Sleep Institute also provides a pre-paid Priority Mail envelope for patients to send the test back to its facility after it has been taken, he said.

Once the test is received by the Federal Sleep Institute, the raw data about the patient’s night of sleep will be downloaded directly from the machine and a certified sleep specialist or physician will analyze the results and produce a report with suggested recommendations for treatment or therapy in less than 24 hours, Czernejewski said.

The sleep test machine measures the patient’s respiratory effort, airflow, pulse rate and oxygenation through three non-invasive sensors, he said.

The test results will indicate the patient’s heart rate and blood pressure during sleep, how many times the patient stopped or slowed breathing, how long the patient slept, even how long the machine was worn, Czernejewski said.

“The whole process from screening at risk patients, to diagnosis to treatment can be done through the Federal Sleep Institute and without ever leaving the comfort of your home if you don’t want to,” Czernejewski said.

With Federal Sleep Institute, Czernejewski is working particularly close with commercial truck driving companies and the Department of Transportation medical examiners. He worked previously with long distance truck drivers and the DOT in his former career as the owner of a fleet service vehicle maintenance and repair company. According to Czernejewski, nearly 40 percent of truck drivers suffer from sleep apnea and more and more drivers are being required to get tested for sleep apnea.

“It’s definitely a safety issue and potentially a liability,” Czernejewski said. “The state Department of Transportation in Wisconsin and other states has started requiring at-risk drivers to get tested for sleep apnea and many of them couldn’t afford the expensive costs traditionally associated with sleep lap tests. I wanted to offer them a lower cost alternative.”

In some cases, drivers need to show proof of testing, diagnosis and treatment in order to get their medical cards and commercial driver’s licenses back, Czernejewski said.

“It was a double-edged sword for a lot of drivers,” he said. “They didn’t have the money to get the test, but they couldn’t go back to work without it. The at-home test offered by the Federal Sleep Institute is the perfect alternative for them.”

Going into a facility sleeping overnight and then going back for diagnosis and treatment also wasn’t a plausible scenario for most truck drivers who travel and are only home for a week at a time, Czernejewski said.

“The at-home method is perfect for their lifestyle, and is being accepted as a reliable alternative to traditional sleep apnea tests by physicians and examiners,” he said. “Sometimes a traditional in-lab sleep test is necessary, but for most patients this is an even more viable option.”

Right now, any physician can write a prescription for the at-home sleep apnea test, Czernejewski said.

“Our on-staff physicians are only licensed to write prescriptions for the tests for patients in Wisconsin, but we can and have worked with physicians in other states on behalf of patients as well,” he said.

Individuals who think they might suffer from sleep apnea can take a free screening exam on the Federal Sleep Institute’s website, Czernejewski said.

“The results of the screening will be read by our certified staff who can then issue a prescription for the at-home test if the patient resides in Wisconsin to help with diagnosis of the disorder,” he said. “We have taken an approach to utilize a certain element of telemedicine, which is where the medical industry is going. Patient’s can do the assessment, talk to a specialist, get diagnosed and receive a prescription for the at-home test and even the at-home treatment all from the comfort of their home. We’re trying to revolutionize the sleep test industry.”

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