Province to supply private company’s in-home tests to reduce backlog in diagnosing sleep disorders
With more than 8,000 Manitobans waiting for a sleep disorder diagnosis, the provincial government is teaming up with a private company to supply in-home sleep tests.
The province officially announced its contract with a Winnipeg-based medical technology company Thursday, along with the start of an eligibility process for Manitobans currently on a provincial sleep-test wait list to see if they qualify for a free at-home test.
Cerebra has the contract to provide 1,000 at-home tests, as first reported by the Free Press last month. Previously, patients had to attend a sleep lab and be assessed in person. During the pandemic, the sleep study backlog worsened. Patients who are already on a wait list can check their eligibility online or be referred by a physician.
The province posted eligibility criteria at http://wfp.to/Spi. Applicants can then complete an online form, email [email protected] or call 1-888-600-0108 to move forward in the process, the province stated in a news release.
As of Dec. 31, there were more than 8,000 Manitobans on the wait list for all types of diagnostic sleep studies, according to the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
Despite the backlog, privatization of these sleep tests is not the answer, the Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals said in response Thursday. The government should be investing in the Misericordia Health Centre Sleep Lab rather than granting a contract to a private company, the organization’s president Jason Linklater said.
The equipment at the Misericordia’s sleep lab is 20 years old, but requests to replace it have gone unheeded, Linklater wrote in a statement. The organization is concerned about the effectiveness of private tests.
“At-home sleep studies for some low-acuity patients do have a role and are already performed within the public system, supported by specialized Polysomnographers. MAHCP is concerned that, with no oversight, up to 30 (per cent) of privately provided sleep studies will fail and patients will end up back in our overburdened public sleep lab, duplicating efforts and costs when they could have been performed there in the first place with more staffing and better resources,” he said.
“The government should stop handing out contracts to private, for-profit companies and focus on properly staffing and funding public diagnostics for all Manitobans. Such investments have brought down wait lists for sleep studies in the past, it can work again.”
Credit: Province to supply private company’s in-home tests to reduce backlog in diagnosing sleep disorders