The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) is getting serious about accreditation, and if sleep labs are wise, they should be getting serious, too. Recently, the AASM met with Medicare and third-party insurers resulting in the development of an AASM policy on accreditation and coverage determination. In order to ensure the highest standards of care, the AASM policy states, “Sleep studies must be provided by an American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)-accredited center/laboratory.” Though the process may be daunting, for labs across the country, it’s time to move ahead with accreditation.

We often hear the word “tough” affiliated with the word “decision.” “It’s a tough decision” is the commonly tossed around phrase. As a child, I can vividly remember contemplating my decision to attend my first practice day for soccer. I laid out my options: I could have chosen to hop on my bike and boldly venture to the field, or I could have stayed home and chosen not to find out what playing soccer was all about. Unable to make up my mind, I hadn’t considered that there was another option on the table—that my parents would tell me that I had to go.

For sleep labs that are thinking about becoming accredited, many may be at a point of decision similar to that of my boyhood dilemma. Of course, business decisions have more far-reaching repercussions, but the basic options remain the same—move forward, stay put, or be pushed in a particular direction.

Regarding accreditation, sleep labs today can choose to remain in their comfortable routine and opt out of accreditation. Those in that camp might argue that the cost of time, money, and added manpower to comply with certain standards of excellence are not worth it if the sleep testing business is already successful. However, little is gained by standing on shore and arguing while other labs venture into the accreditation waters and develop better business practices.

Sleep labs may also opt to wait, but being unwilling to come to a decision could result in being forced into making one. According to a recent AASM report, an increasing number of states are requiring AASM accreditation for Medicare reimbursement.

Though it is still the choice of the lab to become accredited, could mandatory accreditation for all sleep labs be drawing near? Time will tell, but I know this much—it makes for a much better experience to move forward on your own than to be forced into a situation. The bottom line result may be the same—the lab is accredited, but the sleep center managers who voluntarily opt to seek accreditation will come out feeling like they did something better for their business and patients, and participated in an action to advance the profession of sleep medicine. Meanwhile, for those who may soon face mandatory accreditation, the process will be a struggle because they are being forced to become accredited.

As things turned out at my soccer practice, I was happy to be there that first day, but I think I could have saved myself some trouble and had a more “glorious” experience had I looked at all of the potential positive outcomes and moved forward with those in mind. I would have enabled myself to look back and say, “Look at what I did.” Similarly, sleep labs can do the same. By opting to become accredited, they can say, “Look at what I did for my business, my profession, and my patients,” instead of “This is what I was required to do.”

Professionals who are considering AASM accreditation for their sleep center can visit for accreditation information.