Economic Impact of Sleep Apnea Expands Beyond Economic Revenue

I came across this article on Delaware Online that I wanted to share with you all. We’ve touched base on the idea that sleep apnea has a significant impact on the economy, but costs even more when it goes untreated. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, but more than 80% do not receive a diagnosis.

Use Delaware as an Example

We don’t keep track of numbers specific to each state (but we should). In Delaware, those who treat sleep apnea (whether it is dentists or medical professionals), have said that awareness is on the rise in Delaware–that’s something every state should attain to do. A clinician education specialist with the Delaware Sleep Society stated that they had seen an increase in their study volume and are dedicated to promoting good sleeping habits.

In fact, in March 2015, about 100 patients visited the Delaware Sleep Society’s sleep disorder center. The number increased to 254 during the same month a year later. And, while statistics for 2017 are not yet available, we can take a guess that the number increased again this year. We need to improve our education and availability of information for patients so they know the risks at hand for untreated sleep apnea. Delaware is a great example of how the numbers are increasing due to awareness–we just need to hop on board.

A Look at the Numbers

Nationwide, sleep disorder centers saw a four percent growth every year between 2010 and 2015, according to IBISWorld, a Los Angeles-based tracker of consumer data. Due to the continued growth, in 2010 there were 2,280 sleep disorder centers in the U.S. generating about $5.9 billion. Then, in 2015, there were about 2,800 centers with an estimated revenue of $7.1 billion. This growth will continue to increase to $10 billion by 2020.

However, the economic impact of sleep apnea goes far beyond the economic revenue for those who treat sleep apnea. When sleep apnea goes undiagnosed, the economic burden is about $149.6 billion, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. This includes nearly $87 billion in lost productivity, $26 billion in car crashes and $6.5 billion in workplace accidents.

Untreated sleep apnea can lead to an array of other serious health problems including heart disease, diabetes and depression. As a result, undiagnosed sleep apnea leads to $30 billion a year in increased health care costs. According to the AASM, if everyone who suffers from sleep apnea received treatment, it would create a savings of just over $100 billion–now that’s a lot!
It’s time we up our game with educating our patients about the need to screen for sleep apnea. We can help the sleep apnea industry grow, while keeping productivity high with proper treatment. What are ways we can continue to grow the education area of sleep apnea?

International Board Member of British Society of Dental Sleep Medicine

Over the past year, I have been working closely with Dr. Aditi Desai and her team at the British Society of Dental Sleep Medicine (BSDSM) to educate dentists. Together we have created an effective lecture series to better provide advanced information for dentists in the UK.

Last summer I flew to London to lead an “Introduction to Dental Sleep Medicine” with the BSDSM. This group of dentists were so interested in dental sleep medicine that we worked together to ensure we could continue to provide these courses every year. In the introduction course, I worked with Dr. Desai on a module for temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD), craniofacial pain (CFP), and sleep bruxism (SB).

After working with Dr. Desai at the British Society of Dental Sleep Medicine, it is my pleasure to announce my new position as International Board. I look forward to working more with Dr. Desai, other board members and the dentists in London, as well as surrounding countries. Together we can continue to provide exceptional education on dental sleep medicine, TMD and craniofacial pain.

Should Sleep Apnea Really be the Best Defense in a Trial?

We’ve heard it several times already, “sleep apnea made me do it” or “sleep apnea is the reason I fell asleep.” Is this argument always valid? Should we pay closer attention to those who claim they suffer from sleep apnea? These are all important questions, and while we don’t want to lessen the severity that sleep apnea has on an individual, we also don’t want to overuse it. In a New York Post article, sleep apnea appears to be a lawyer’s new favorite criminal defense.

The Charge

On a flight, a 21-year-old woman had her earbuds in and hood up while she was eating her in-flight lunch when a large middle-aged man sleeping next to her appeared to jump awake. At first, the man grabbed the woman’s shoulder. Soon after he went around and grabbed the woman’s right breast. The groping from the large man lasted about 30 seconds before fellow passengers could pull them apart. The woman’s attacker was brought up on federal sex-abuse charges.

The Defense

In response to the federal sex-abuse charges, the man’s lawyer presented a bizarre defense that has been used far too often. And, that’s a shame for those who actually suffer from this condition. He said, “Sleep apnea made me do it.” The man was eventually acquitted.

Can you believe that? A deadly condition like sleep apnea is not one to be used lightly, and when someone uses this condition as an excuse, it can give sleep apnea a bad name. We don’t want that to happen.

What We Can Do

We’ve seen this happen far too many times now, but what can we do about it? While we can’t change the opinions, we can continue to educate our patients. Through proper education and treatment, we can not only help our patients live healthier lives, but also understand the true definition of this condition.

From train crashes to cases of sexual abuse, where do we draw the line? I wish I knew the answer to this, but I believe that the more we educate ourselves, employees, and patients, the more we can avoid these situations. Whether it is preventing a crash through proper treatment, or allowing for people like the man in this story to not get away with sleep apnea as an excuse for touching a woman by providing proper education, we need to stay strong.

Sleep apnea is a serious condition, and we need to continue to provide the services we offer in order to educate the masses.

Stop Putting Off Education–Start Now!

I’ve heard it before, “I’ll find time next year for continuing education courses. I’m too busy now.” But the thing is, next year will turn into another year and another. Next thing you know, it will be five years down the road and you still haven’t completed that continuing education you’ve been meaning to.

I’m holding you to your 2016 goal of attending more courses “next year”. Now that we’re four months into 2017, I think you should sign up for an upcoming lecture. I’ve even made it easy for you by including my lectures through September (with links), so you can gain access to all the information right here instead of jumping from page to page. Let’s take a look:

 

  • April 28-29, 2017 in Jupiter, FL
  • Screening your existing dental patients for obstructive sleep apnea is a crucial piece of the dental sleep medicine puzzle. Are you ready?

 

  • May 12-13, 2017 in Atlanta, GA
    • Topic: Pinpoint the Pain: TMD, Craniofacial Pain
    • Did you know 45 million Americans suffer from TMD & headaches, but a majority go untreated? Get involved in helping these patients by understanding common pain complaints in the head and neck, how to diagnose pain and TMD, when and how to treat, and when to refer.

 

  • May 19-20, 2017 in New York, NY

 

    • This interactive sleep, TMJ, & pain symposium will give you the knowledge you need to integrate yourself into the sleep and pain medical community, increasing your knowledge and referral network, while providing your patients the best quality care.

 

  • July 7-8, 2017 in Chicago, IL

 

    • Did you know there is a link between sleep apnea, bruxism, and craniofacial pain? Learn how to assess your patients, prioritize, and fabricate a treatment plan that provides the best results for these three conditions.

 

  • July 14-15, 2017 in Atlanta, GA

 

    • Get involved in helping patients suffering from TMD or Craniofacial Pain by understanding common pain complaints in the head and neck, how to diagnose pain and TMD, when and how to treat, and when to refer.

 

  • July 21-22, 2017 in Atlanta, GA

 

    • The SCOPE Institute Dental Sleep Medicine Mini Residency is a 4-session, 64 CE Credit program designed to give dental practices the knowledge and guidance to fully incorporate obstructive sleep apnea treatment into their practice, and the experience to overcome obstacles in order to grow and flourish in dental sleep medicine.

 

  • September 15-16, 2017 in Phoenix, AZ

 

    • Continue to learn more about common pain complaints in the head and neck, how to diagnose pain and TMD, when and how to treat, and when to refer.

Which lecture series are you interested in the most? Share your answers with me–I’d love to hear from you. I look forward to seeing everyone at an upcoming lecture in 2017!