By Lori Sichtermann
Even for a relative newcomer to the sleep industry, it’s apparent that change—big change—is on the horizon for sleep medicine and the professionals employed within.
An obvious point of discussion is the current arm wrestle between proponents of in-lab polysomnography and those advocating home testing. The specifics (or lack thereof) regarding what is and what is not covered by insurance carriers, as well as the confusion over the development of testing protocols for home testing, have created swaths of gray areas for sleep professionals to interpret.
What’s more, questions about new and diminishing responsibilities for those working in sleep medicine have invited a certain amount of anxiety within a proudly progressive and organic industry. Lawrence J. Epstein, MD, speaks on this topic in his guest editorial, giving insight into the role out of center sleep testing is playing today, and the importance for sleep centers to develop sleep benefits management programs.
It seems as if change is in store for nearly every facet of the industry. Yet, as Rita Brooks, MEd, RST, RPSGT, REEG/EPT, the incoming president of the American Association of Sleep Technologists (AAST), reveals in October’s cover feature, the various evolutions taking place within sleep medicine should be embraced.
As noted in the cover article, Brooks is leading the AAST at a time when economic and technology factors are driving a transformation in how all healthcare, including sleep medicine, is delivered in the United States. “It is very exciting and it is a little scary to be leading this as things are changing so quickly,” she says.
Brooks speaks eloquently of change because she’s no stranger to it. In fact, she’s spent much of her career advocating on its behalf. When she came to a crossroads years ago—unjust legislation threatened all that she had worked to create and jeopardized her future as a sleep technologist—Brooks took action. She’s nothing less than a pioneer, so it’s fitting that she should lead one of the pioneering organizations for sleep medicine.
October’s issue also features the annual Sleep Review Salary Survey. The 2013 survey results demonstrate the pay fluctuations among professionals in sleep medicine over the last 12 months. It is a nationwide snapshot of change that gives insight to what’s to come for many working in the industry.
And, as I take a similarly sweeping view of the sleep industry today, a familiar, tin-toned melody plays in my mind: “These times, they are a-changin’.” Ole’ Bob Dylan’s words resonate in-house at Sleep Review as we say farewell to seasoned editor Frank Holman after more than 7 years at the helm.
Frank was a diligent, inquisitive, and artistic voice for sleep medicine. I, along with much of the industry, wish him the best in his future endeavors. But moving forward—as change requires us to do—we anticipate the new direction in which the magazine will surely take in this “post Frank era.”
As the industry continues to evolve, we want to know how your profession is changing. Sleep Review invites your insight on what’s going on within your facility, your town, your county, your state, and your region when it comes to sleep medicine. We make it our mission to be your companion on this journey, and that’s something we don’t plan to change any time soon!
– Lori Sichtermann, associate editor, [email protected]