Sleep disorders are common in both adults and children. If left untreated, they can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, problems at work or school, behavioral problems in children, and difficulties with interpersonal relationships.
TeleSleep is a Swedish TeleHealth service that makes it possible for adults and children suffering from any type of sleep disorder to have initial evaluations when this type of specialized exam is not readily available closer to home.
Conditions that may be evaluated via TeleSleep include:
- Sleep apnea
- Children’s sleep disorders
- Circadian Rhythm
- Daytime sleepiness
- Restless legs syndrome
- Shift work/jet lag
- Women’s sleep disorders
- Sleep terrors
This preliminary evaluation by a Swedish sleep medicine specialist ensures the patient gets on the right treatment path as early as possible.
The Swedish TeleSleep Program builds on technology the Swedish Neuroscience Institute (SNI) uses to provide TeleStroke services. This telemedicine technology links the patient and his or her care provider with a Swedish sleep medicine specialist, even though they are not physically located in the same office. TeleSleep offers the fastest and easiest access to a thorough exam to help determine the cause of the sleep disorder – all within the patient’s community.
How does TeleSleep work?
TeleSleep uses video conferencing and other specialized telemedicine equipment. This allows a Swedish sleep medicine specialist in Seattle to complete a thorough examination as if he or she was in the same room as the patient.
Using two computer monitors – one located in Seattle and one located in the patient’s doctor’s office – the patient and the specialist can see each other. The patient, and the patient’s doctor and any family members who are present can interact with the specialist – just like any typical doctor’s visit.
How does the sleep medicine specialist conduct the remote exam?
Just about any initial exam that can be done in person can be done remotely thanks to high-tech telehealth equipment and the assistance of a telepresenter. A telepresenter is a specially trained health-care professional who helps conduct the evaluation and transmits critical information to the sleep medicine specialist.
To begin the exam, the telepresenter prepares the patient and the telehealth equipment for the exam. The telepresenter also establishes a secure telehealth Internet connection with the specialist in Seattle.
Once the connection is made, the sleep medicine specialist will talk with the patient, asking questions about his or her past and present medical history, as well as talk about specific symptoms and environment that may affect the patient’s ability to sleep.
Telesleep Network Partner's office
Swedish TeleSleep specialist
Ear and Throat Exam: An ENT/otoscope allows a care provider to examine a patient’s ear and throat. For TeleSleep, however, the telepresenter uses a digital ENT/otoscope that is fitted with a tiny camera and is connected to the computer so the sleep medicine specialist can immediately view the high-resolution images of the ear and throat. This allows the specialist to evaluate how the palate is formed, the oral anatomy and jaw placement. The camera’s zoom feature allows close-up focusing on key structures.
Ear Exam: TeleSleep Network Partner's Office
Ear Exam: Swedish TeleSleep Specialist
Throat Exam: TeleSleep Network Partner's Office
Throat Exam: TeleSleep Specialist
Listening to the heart and lungs: The telepresenter uses a special stethoscope to listen to the heart and lungs. The only difference between a regular stethoscope and this high-tech version is that this electronic stethoscope simultaneously transmits the sounds so the telepresenter and the sleep medicine specialist hear the same sounds at the same time.
TeleSleep Network Partner's office
Sometimes a TeleSleep consult concludes with the recommendation for additional evaluation and/or overnight monitoring, which is available at the local hospital. If special services are required, the patient may be referred to one of Swedish’s hospitals or affiliates. A TeleSleep evaluation, however, is a great way to receive an initial opinion, which may rule out sleep apnea and possibly the need for overnight monitoring.
What are the benefits of TeleSleep?
Many communities do not have a full array of sleep subspecialists available for patient consultations. Sleep subspecialties include:
- Pediatric sleep
- Women’s sleep
- Sleep with neuro/psychiatric complications
TeleSleep helps fill that gap in local sleep medicine expertise, and ensures patients are able to receive treatment in a timely manner. It also provides a convenient opportunity for a second opinion for the interpretation of overnight sleep studies.