The benefits of in-home, monitored EEG testing

When it comes to patients with epilepsy, quick and affordable access to high-quality electroencephalogram (EEG) testing is critical.

Undiagnosed and untreated seizures put patients at risk and increase emergency room visits within already strained health systems. Patients — especially those in rural areas — often don’t have access to a local epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU), and pediatric EMUs are even more scarce. Patients and their families are often required to travel significant distances for a costly inpatient stay, while wait times for many EMUs exceed one month. This problem is compounded by the nationwide EEG technologist shortage, and this inefficient system compromises patients’ safety and well-being and can place tremendous burden on health systems.

Fortunately, an alternative model has emerged to address many of the time-, quality- and cost-related constraints of traditional inpatient testing: the in-home, monitored EEG test. This model provides the benefits of an inpatient stay, such as consistent monitoring by experienced professionals, without the inpatient price tag and the risks inherent to a hospital setting. The in-home, monitored EEG relieves patients and their families of costs associated with a hospital stay, while capturing events triggered at home more efficiently and cost-effectively. Here’s how and why:

Lower costs and increased operational efficiencies

The United States spends approximately $15.5 billion annually on epilepsy-related expenses, including medical expenditures and informal care, according to Epilepsy Advocate Magazine. And people with epilepsy who make frequent ER visits due to uncontrolled seizures incur an average cost of $33,006 annually.

The nature of the in-home, monitored EEG test allows staff to bill only the CPT code without the other costs associated with traditional hospital stays, such as nursing and room and board. This lowers EEG test-related costs and labor expenditures by an average of 50 percent.

Providers of the in-home model can preauthorize patients’ insurance and provide a cost estimate up front to ensure the test is affordable. By removing the burden of billing administration and the extra time, labor and costs associated with an inpatient stay, the monitored EEG model presents a unique and innovative way for health system administrators and insurers to reduce costs and improve patient care.

Providers of this new model recognize the challenges health systems face across the country and are innovating to address operational and organizational issues the traditional model presents. The providers of this model understand their role in the era of value-based care and the importance of serving as a partner to hospitals and health systems in delivering individualized patient care.

Higher quality data and outcomes

The in-home model offers consistent and uninterrupted monitoring of EEG tests to ensure quality of EEG and video data and patient care. By monitoring the test 24 hours/day for its entire duration (24-96+ hours), Registered Technologists confirm electrode impedances hourly and ensure the patient remains visible on the video screen. Technologists are on-call 24/7, answering patient questions and ensuring the integrity of the test.

The quality of the in-home model extends beyond 24/7 monitoring; this model also offers prompt scheduling and results to begin diagnosis and treatment as quickly as possible. Epileptologists are on hand to provide a preliminary read of tests if requested, and this model also offers remote access to an online physician portal for providers to view test results. Registered EEG Technologists review the entire recording and ensure the video feed and EEG data produce high-quality outcomes and avoid repeat tests.

Greater convenience for patients

Healthcare administrators face serious challenges regarding scheduling delays and excessive wait times for patients in need of high-quality EEG tests. The typical wait time for a hospital EMU visit can exceed four to six weeks in some areas — a time frame that may jeopardize patient safety and long-term outcomes.

What’s more, the time and cost associated with traveling to a hospital for an inpatient stay can be a heavy burden for patients and families in many areas of the country. And while some health systems offer an ambulatory service, these tests are unmonitored, leading to repeat tests and additional costs down the line.

On the other hand, the in-home, monitored EEG test relieves patients and families of the need to travel and pay additional costs for a hospital stay, while ensuring high-quality and consistent video monitoring. Patients can relax in the comfort of their home, while the testing they need comes to them.

The traditional method of EEG testing has presented increasing challenges to both healthcare administrators looking for more efficient delivery models and patients seeking more accessible and affordable care. While there are still instances in which an EEG test may require an inpatient stay, the in-home, monitored EEG test has emerged as an attractive alternative for those wishing to deliver high-quality EEG tests directly to their patient communities.

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