Feature

Poll suggests PCPs should discuss sleep more often

Eric Olson
Eric Olson

Of 289 patients asked, 48% said their primary care physician has never asked them about their sleeping habits, according to a survey recently released by the American Alliance for Healthy Sleep.

Eric Olson, MD, a sleep medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and board member for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, told Healio Primary Care Today he was troubled by the finding.

“A good night’s sleep is tied to so many health benefits. Study after study has shown that symptoms of diabetes, CVD, cognitive function and other medical conditions improve or worsen depending on how much sleep a person gets. Thus, it is critical that PCPs ask their patients to tell them how they are sleeping,” Olson said.

Olson added PCPs with limited sleep medicine knowledge are not off the hook from asking.

“Even if the PCP doesn’t know the answer to the patients’ questions, it is better to ask the patient and point them in the direction of a legitimate website or professional sleep specialist than to never ask the patient at all,” he said.

“The internet can be a valuable source of information when you know the proper sites to visit,” Olson continued. “Both patients and PCPs can take advantage of guidelines, position statements and other resources at sleepeducation.org and sleepallies.org. They can also visit websites of large medical centers. PCPs can also, as much as their schedule allows, attend conferences and enroll in CME classes to further their education.”

He offered suggestions to overcome the limited amount of time that many PCPs have with their patients.

“Consider scheduling another appointment with that patient, making a quick phone call or sending them an email the next day, or asking the next patient to please wait a few extra moments,” he suggested, noting that most patients are forthcoming with their sleep complaints once they are asked.

 
Of 289 patients asked, 48% said their primary care physician has never asked them about their sleeping habits, according to a survey recently released by the American Alliance for Healthy Sleep.

Source:Adobe

Olson said another American Alliance for Healthy Sleep survey finding — 54% of patients didn’t know whether their insurance covered sleep services — was also troubling and encouraged PCPs to do what they can to help their patients get answers to any questions they might have in this area.

“The economic reality is sleep services can be expensive. Patients need to know if the coverage is there for them,” he said.

He added PCPs must remain diligent in their efforts despite the obstacles that one may encounter in getting answers.

"Dealing with insurance companies can sometimes be just as frustrating for me as it is for patients,” Olson said. “These frustrations and inconsistences regarding coverage can be a real barrier for patients, but we, as clinicians, must do what we can to facilitate the knowledge process for our patients.” – by Janel Miller

Reference: American Alliance for Healthy Sleep. Access to care survey. Released Jan. 7, 2019.

Disclosure: Olson reports no relevant financial disclosures.

 

 

 

Eric Olson
Eric Olson

Of 289 patients asked, 48% said their primary care physician has never asked them about their sleeping habits, according to a survey recently released by the American Alliance for Healthy Sleep.

Eric Olson, MD, a sleep medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and board member for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, told Healio Primary Care Today he was troubled by the finding.

“A good night’s sleep is tied to so many health benefits. Study after study has shown that symptoms of diabetes, CVD, cognitive function and other medical conditions improve or worsen depending on how much sleep a person gets. Thus, it is critical that PCPs ask their patients to tell them how they are sleeping,” Olson said.

Olson added PCPs with limited sleep medicine knowledge are not off the hook from asking.

“Even if the PCP doesn’t know the answer to the patients’ questions, it is better to ask the patient and point them in the direction of a legitimate website or professional sleep specialist than to never ask the patient at all,” he said.

“The internet can be a valuable source of information when you know the proper sites to visit,” Olson continued. “Both patients and PCPs can take advantage of guidelines, position statements and other resources at sleepeducation.org and sleepallies.org. They can also visit websites of large medical centers. PCPs can also, as much as their schedule allows, attend conferences and enroll in CME classes to further their education.”

He offered suggestions to overcome the limited amount of time that many PCPs have with their patients.

“Consider scheduling another appointment with that patient, making a quick phone call or sending them an email the next day, or asking the next patient to please wait a few extra moments,” he suggested, noting that most patients are forthcoming with their sleep complaints once they are asked.

 
Of 289 patients asked, 48% said their primary care physician has never asked them about their sleeping habits, according to a survey recently released by the American Alliance for Healthy Sleep.

Source:Adobe

Olson said another American Alliance for Healthy Sleep survey finding — 54% of patients didn’t know whether their insurance covered sleep services — was also troubling and encouraged PCPs to do what they can to help their patients get answers to any questions they might have in this area.

“The economic reality is sleep services can be expensive. Patients need to know if the coverage is there for them,” he said.

He added PCPs must remain diligent in their efforts despite the obstacles that one may encounter in getting answers.

"Dealing with insurance companies can sometimes be just as frustrating for me as it is for patients,” Olson said. “These frustrations and inconsistences regarding coverage can be a real barrier for patients, but we, as clinicians, must do what we can to facilitate the knowledge process for our patients.” – by Janel Miller

Reference: American Alliance for Healthy Sleep. Access to care survey. Released Jan. 7, 2019.

Disclosure: Olson reports no relevant financial disclosures.