CEPAC meeting in CT – effective sleep apnea treatment

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Yesterday’s New England Comparative Effectiveness Public Advisory Council (CEPAC) meeting centered on sleep apnea. Too many new (and expensive) treatments and technologies are adopted and gain wide use without a careful analysis of their effectiveness in treating the condition and/or cost effectiveness compared to other options. CEPAC’s mission is to produce actionable information to aid regional policymakers in the medical policy decision-making process. CEPAC includes researchers, clinicians and patient advocates from across the New England states who, twice a year, drill down into the research around treatment options for a condition, evaluate effectiveness and costs, and vote on whether there is sufficient evidence to recommend each treatment’s use. About 10 to 20% of middle-age and older adults suffer from sleep apnea, with regular bouts of difficulty breathing through the night. And rates of the condition are rising, driven in part by rising obesity rates. Studies have found that sleep apnea patients have higher rates of health care use, including more and longer hospital stays, and higher health care costs before diagnosis than after. Sleep apnea has been linked to lower productivity among workers, higher motor vehicle crash rates, and cardiovascular disease. After long discussion of the research and impact in the real world, the group voted on effective treatments (home sleep studies) and treatments (urging more research on weight loss support). Studies like these are critical to the double goal of both improving the quality of care and controlling costs. We have to find more opportunities like this if we are going to fix our broken health care system.