One year ago, Brigham and Women’s Sleep Medicine and Endocrinology Center opened at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital. The practice, which incorporates Sleep Medicine, General Endocrinology, the Diabetes Program and the Center for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery into one suite, has seen tremendous growth in its first year.
Sleep Medicine (including providers from both Neurology and Medicine) and General Endocrinology services were previously available at BWFH, but housed in separate suites. The Diabetes Program and the Center for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery are new to BWFH. Combining the four areas into one suite provides easy access for patients that oftentimes need multiple services. Also in the suite is a registered dietitian and a vendor who helps dispense and troubleshoot positive airway pressure machines for sleep apnea patients.
“There is such a good synergy between our specialties,” says Dr. Florencia Halperin, Co-Director of the Center for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery and Chief of Endocrinology at BWFH. As an example, the clinic sees many patients with diabetes and sleep apnea as a result of obesity. A patient with diabetes can see the experts at the Diabetes Program or a general endocrinologist and, if they are also overweight, they can be seamlessly referred to the Center for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery. In addition, their being overweight may very well be a contributing factor to them having sleep apnea and they may need to see a sleep specialist. The unique setup of the clinic allows for a patient-centered model of care across several specialties in one convenient location.
“I personally refer a lot of patients to Sleep Medicine,” says Dr. Halperin who often finds herself consulting with her fellow specialists in the physician workstation. “Those quick curbside consults are very valuable. We all work together to help the same person with multiple medical conditions, all under one roof,” she says.
Patients also find convenience when they visit the Brigham and Women’s Sleep Medicine and Endocrinology Center. Dr. Halperin explains, “A lot of my patients walk out of their weight management or diabetes appointment and make an appointment to see a sleep expert right there at the front desk where the staff is crossed trained to help patients across each discipline.”
Many of the disciplines offer virtual visits, and, in weight management, online group meetings will be implemented this year, with the aim to make things easier for patients and providers. “The group model works really well in weight management to complement the individual visits,” says Dr. Halperin. “Patients benefit from the support from others. But also, in one hour, the dietician can meet with ten people. In the clinic setting she might only be able to meet with two or three people in that time frame. That frees up some of her time to see new patients and other patients who need to be seen in person.”
Over the past year, the clinic has steadily seen the number of patients increase. In fact, in Sleep Medicine alone, patient volume has increased 82 percent over the last year. “It’s been a resplendent success!” says Dr. Rohit Budhiraja, Sleep Medicine Clinic Director. “We’ve gone from seeing 2,960 patients in fiscal year 2016 to 5,398 in fiscal year 2017. This translates into more expeditious diagnosis and therapy of sleep disorders. And the convenience of the clinic has led to significantly enhanced patient and staff satisfaction.”
In the next year, they hope to improve efficiency and think even more about improving the patient experience.
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