Study Objectives: We tested a telemedicine model of care to initiate continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) living in remote Western Australia.
Methods: A prospective study comparing telemedicine for CPAP initiation in a remote population versus standard face-to-face CPAP initiation in a metropolitan population. The primary outcome was average nightly CPAP use in the final week of a CPAP trial.
Results: A total of 186 participants were allocated to either telemedicine (n = 56) or standard care (n = 130). The average distance from the study center for the telemedicine group was 979 km (±792 km) compared to 19 km (±14 km) for the standard care group. The CPAP trial duration in the standard care group was less than the telemedicine group (37.6 vs 69.9 days, p < .001). CPAP adherence in the telemedicine group was not inferior to standard care (Standard 4.7 ± 0.2 h, Telemedicine 4.7 ± 0.3 h, p = 0.86). No differences were found between groups in residual apnea-hypopnea index, symptom response, sleep specific quality of life at the end of the trial, and continued CPAP use (3-6 months). Participant satisfaction was high in both groups. Total health care costs of the telemedicine model were less than the standard model of care. An estimated A$4538 per participant in travel costs was saved within the telemedicine group by reducing the need to travel to the sleep center for in-person management.
Conclusions: In remote dwelling adults starting CPAP for the treatment of OSA, outcomes using telemedicine were comparable to in-person management in a metropolitan setting.
- Continuous positive airway pressure
- obstructive sleep apnea
- participant experience