What is a Home Sleep Apnea Test HST / HSAT?
Home Sleep Apnea Tests (HST/ HSATs) are an at-home sleep study option available to patients in specific circumstances. HSATs collect a limited amount of sleep data that can be analyzed and used to confirm a diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. HSATs do not collect enough data to test for other possible sleep disorders and are only one part of the comprehensive sleep evaluation used to diagnose Sleep Apnea. This does not mean an HSAT is less accurate than a Polysomnogram, just that they have different purposes. Home Sleep Apnea Tests do not monitor sleep, as the abbreviation HST may suggest, but instead monitor breathing. This helps evaluate your sleep-disordered breathing and symptoms such as gasping or snoring. The raw data from the home sleep apnea test device must be either reviewed and interpreted or overseen by a physician who is board-certified in sleep medicine. Despite the appeal of a cost-effective test that allows patients to sleep in the comfort of their typical bedroom environment, HSATs are not a fit for every patient.
Who is HSAT a good fit for?
Physicians can determine if an HSAT is the right choice based on medical history and examination. Your doctor may recommend home sleep apnea testing if it is highly likely that you have moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea and you have no other significant medical conditions. An HSAT may be suggested for patients who are unable to have an in-lab study done or have had an in-lab study where they were unable to sleep long enough to gather the needed data. Since HSATs do not collect the same data-points as HSATs, as they only monitor breathing, home sleep testing is only recommended for confirming the diagnosis of Sleep Apnea.
When is HSAT not a good fit?
As mentioned, HSAT is only used to confirm the sleep disorder Obstructive Sleep Apnea and cannot rule out Apnea if results are inconclusive. For this reason, it is not recommended for cases where Obstructive Sleep Apnea is not highly likely, or if physicians suspect any other sleep disorder. If other sleep disorders are suspected or symptoms persist after an inconclusive HSAT, a Polysomnogram is necessary for further sleep diagnostics. There are also certain medical conditions that HSATs are not recommended for. Some examples of those medical conditions include having a BMI greater than or equal to 45, certain pulmonary diseases, neuromuscular diseases, congestive heart failure, and more. Discussing medical history with your physician is important to help them determine the sleep study that works for you. In the instances where an HSAT cannot be used, a Polysomnogram sleep study is usually recommended.
What is a Polysomnogram/ In-Lab Study and Why is it Different?
An in-lab sleep study, also known as a polysomnogram, must be prescribed by a physician. This non-invasive testing requires an overnight stay in a sleep lab and offers the most complete evaluation of sleep. In-lab is more closely monitored than home sleep apnea testing and collects various data points. Your heart rate, brain waves, breathing, eye movements, leg movements, muscle tension, and blood oxygen level will be recorded and measured. Your data will be interpreted and provided to your physician, who will advise you of any sleep disorder diagnosed by your study. This means that rather than only confirming or ruling out sleep apnea, in-lab sleep studies can help diagnose not only Sleep Apnea, but multiple other sleep disorders as well. For instance, monitoring movement and muscle tension can help in the diagnosis of Periodic Limb Movement Disorder. If no other sleep disorder or medical condition is expected, an HSAT may be prescribed as an alternative to the in-lab polysomnogram study.
Where Can You Get an HSAT?
Local Sleep Centers, National Sleep Testing Providers, and Hospital-based centers can offer HSATs. All have various pros and cons, so you must evaluate which is best for your situation. Some personal elements to consider include insurance coverage and out of pocket cost, how far you are willing to drive to pick up a study, are you able to receive a machine delivery, and the level of customer service available to you. Advantage Sleep Centers are considered a local option, so we have gathered the pros and cons of our services to compare with Hospital and National Sleep Test providers including the pros and cons of each, even what could be considered cons of our own, to help you make an informed decision for your sleep health.
National Home Sleep Test Providers
Pros- National HST Companies ship equipment to your home, you set up the test yourself, then send the test back and wait for results. This method requires minimal interaction with anyone other than your physician which some find to be easier and more efficient. There is also increased availability so that the test can be done on your own schedule, they mail the test, and you have a range of time to use the equipment before sending it back. National providers are also cost-effective due to competitive pricing, the ability to provide to a wider range of locations allows them to sell tests in high quantity, lowering prices for the consumer. It also means you are not limited by location for the company you choose, so there may be more companies for you to choose from.
Cons- National Providers are purely diagnostic, they only work with the data gathered from the study and send results to your physician for treatment and all other Sleep Apnea support. As national providers that offer a method with minimal human interaction needed, customer support can at times be a hassle. Instruction is usually in the form of paperwork, online descriptions of how to set up, or sometimes a video. This makes it more difficult to have any questions answered during setup. Providing nationally also means a higher quantity of callers to support lines, leading to longer wait times before you can speak with someone. It is also unclear who reviews the HSAT data. In NJ, data is supposed to be scored by NJ licensed physicians, yet they reside in other states or sometimes data is auto scored when conducted nationally. There is also greater difficulty obtaining insurance authorizations for out of state HSAT providers. Often these companies are quantity over quality, leaving clients and physicians to do more work to reach customer service or receive their results.
Hospital Sleep Test Providers
Pros- Hospital Sleep Studies are clearly conducted by licensed professionals in your state. You may also receive results faster because hospitals have more licensed sleep physicians and available to review data. Your own physician may also be affiliated with the hospital, which makes processes such as insurance authorization and results faster as well. You can speak to someone in person if necessary. You can have a Polysomnogram conducted with the same provider if HSAT results do not provide an answer to the sleep symptoms you are experiencing.
Cons- The main problem with hospital studies is the price, charging up to triple the cost of other sleep study providers. They also have issues derived from having a high quantity of patients such as limited availability, long customer service wait times, and less focus on the patient as an individual. Physician affiliation could also be a downside of Hospital providers because physicians may be obligated to refer to that hospital despite their own provider preference. HST setup instruction is still not likely to be provided in person before you are given the equipment. Home sleep testing is not always provided by hospitals, and instead, the Polysomnogram at the hospital is prescribed.
Local Sleep Centers (Based on Advantage Sleep Centers Services)
Pros- Local Sleep Centers can provide more affordable testing at up to 1/3 the price of a hospital-based sleep test. Our local centers are committed to customer service and full patient management throughout setup, testing, and follow-ups on treatment. Our NJ licensed and certified Sleep Techs work with your physician to ensure results are accurate and to help determine the treatment to suit your Sleep Apnea needs. Data is reviewed and scored by our NJ licensed polysomnographer and reviewed with your physician before you receive results, which are read by local doctors of sleep medicine. We have more availability than Hospital Sleep Centers with availability 7 nights a week. We are not affiliated with any hospitals or offices, yet most South Jersey physicians refer to Advantage Sleep Centers because of the quality service we provide. We have a local reputation after providing sleep testing for 20 years. We provide in-person instruction for HSAT set-ups and are available by phone or can even come to help you if you have trouble setting up your HSAT. We manage insurance authorization, referrals, and sleep-related inquiries for the patient and physician’s convenience, keeping all parties informed along the way. Advantage Sleep Centers has three convenient local facilities accredited with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and an additional HSAT setup location for patient convenience.
Cons- Not as convenient to schedule as with some national providers. We pride ourselves on customer service and keeping patients informed, so our services may not be for people who do not prefer in-person interaction. We are not affiliated with any hospitals or offices, so communicating results to physicians and then to our patients can take 2-3 weeks. As with all local sleep centers, you may have fewer locations available to you or may have to drive a greater distance to receive your HSAT. This may limit your options of local sleep centers to choose from or be less convenient.
What You Can Expect If Scheduled for an Advantage Sleep Centers HSAT
If a patient is prescribed an HSAT study by their physician, we schedule a day for the test. On that day, the patient visits one of our sleep centers to pick up the HSAT device, or the device is delivered, and the patient or their caregiver is given a thorough demonstration on how to use the machine properly. This will allow our patients to be properly educated and make it easier for them to set up the study at home. We are also available to support the patient if any questions arise while setting up the HSAT. While the patient is asleep, all data is recorded on the device. That data is then reviewed by licensed sleep technicians and the patient’s physician before results are returned to the patient. From there, our centers provide
To schedule an appointment with Advantage Sleep Centers or learn more about our services, call 856-95-SLEEP or choose one of the options below: