The conventional diagnosis for sleep apnea entails a two-night stay at a hospital: First for the sleep test, then for the CPAP titration. The average cost of the procedure for those who take the test at home is HK,479 (,080), about 60 percent less than for those who are admitted to hospital.
After the initial diagnosis, both sets of patients need to buy a CPAP machine to conduct the long-term therapy at home.
Not only does the home-based approach save time and money, it has been proven to yield better therapeutic results, according to a study by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, which compared the differences in patients receiving ambulatory care and hospital care.
The study, carried out between September 2013 and August 2014, involved 172 patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea. It found those who received the test and CPAP titration at home were more responsive to treatment.
"Sleep apnea patients felt more restful when sleeping in their own beds rather than at hospital," Hui said. "In familiar settings, subjects became acclimated to the CPAP machine at home quicker."
The study also showed the average waiting time between the first consultation and the diagnostic sleep test was cut by more than 75 percent for patients receiving ambulatory care. Plus, these patients also reported a decrease in daytime lethargy and better cognitive functions.
Kong uses his CPAP machine every day now. He said he is sleeping better, and on nights he stops breathing only about four times an hour, a marked improvement.
"I can finally go into deep sleep," he said. "I feel rested during the day, and what's more, my blood pressure has retreated to a normal level."