Way to Sleep
Samuel Kuna, MD
Luqi Chi, MD
Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a prevalent condition where the pharyngeal airway repeatedly closes during sleep. OSA is associated with a significant increase in morbidity and mortality and is typically treated with positive airway pressure (PAP). However, it is estimated that only about 50 percent of patients use PAP units for the recommended time of at least four hours per day.
A team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania leveraged Way to Health to test whether PAP data and financial incentives could improve PAP usage and outcomes for patients with OSA.
The team conducted a three-month pilot study with 138 adults newly diagnosed with OSA starting PAP treatment. Participants were randomized into one of three study groups:
- Usual care, which typically includes one clinic visit with a sleep specialist 1–3 months after beginning treatment.
- Usual care plus access to PAP usage, which was transmitted wirelessly from the PAP unit and displayed on a secure website.
- Usual care plus access to PAP usage and a financial incentive. Participants in this group could earn up to $30 per day for the first week if they completed at least four hours of PAP usage daily.
The inclusion of a financial incentive in the first week did not increase adherence. However, adherence to PAP treatment significantly improved when patients were given access to information about their usage.
Health systems can leverage this insight to enhance care delivery, thereby improving outcomes and enhancing quality of life for patients with OSA.