‘Old school’ mindsets regarding obstructive sleep apnea, such as who treats these patients and components of the disorder are changing, according to a presenter at the American College of Physicians Internal Medicine Meeting, reports Healio.

“It’s a pleasure to see so many of you here,” Barbara Phillips, MD, MSPH, professor of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine at the University of Kentucky, College of Medicine told attendees. “You are the best hope for the future of sleep medicine,” noting that the number of sleep specialists will decrease by 50% in 5 years.

“There won’t be enough board-certified specialists to treat the number of patients who have sleep apnea. These people are going to need to be managed by others and I believe internists are ideally suited to fill that role,” she said.

“You get the patient’s big picture,” she explained. “You get all their comorbidities that people with obstructive sleep apnea have, like diabetes and hypertension, you are managing those conditions anyway, so obstructive sleep apnea will fit nicely into your wheel house.”