There are 3 basic types of sleep labs: hospital associated, extension of a physician practice, and independent diagnostic and testing facility (IDTF).
Assuming that a physician is not starting a sleep lab in association with a hospital, the basic choice comes down to IDTF or extension of a physician practice.
In my case, I started Somnus Sleep Clinic with some non-physician owners, so IDTF was the only option.
For a physician or physician group, either form could be appropriate. The key difference is how patients are referred to the sleep lab.
For an IDTF, the Feds mandate that most of the referrals for sleep studies come from outside physicians. Practically, what this means is that the outside physicians refer the patients directly for the sleep study. The sleep physician then sees the patient (if the patient is going to be seen by the sleep physician) after the sleep study (within 3 months will meet AASM guidelines). You need to put some type of statement on the psg order form (which should be signed by the outside referring physician) that a cpap titration will be performed if clinically appropriate- then both studies will count as ordered by the outside physician.
For a sleep lab that is an extension of a physician practice, most of the sleep study referrals (85% is a figure I've heard several times before) need to come from inside the practice. Practically, what this means is that the sleep studies need to come from either the practice's own patients and/or patients referred to the practice for a sleep evaluation (and seen by the practice prior to the sleep study). The order for the sleep study needs to come from a physician in the practice.
There are some other differences between IDTF's and physician practice sleep labs, more to come later.