Sleep Medicine Disruptors: Change Agents

The AASM is embarking on its first-ever “ideathon,” but we are doing it with a twist. In this six-week challenge, teams will generate innovative ideas that challenge the status quo in sleep medicine. If you think you have what it takes to reinvent sleep care, put together a team and compete for up to $25,000 in prizes. Become a change agent for sleep medicine.

View Winners and Vote for People’s Choice


The Challenge

Competing teams will submit their proposal to reinvent the management of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) so that it is more effective, efficient, more patient-centered and results in higher total provider reimbursement. Teams are expected to analyze the current practice models and recommend a new approach that could improve diagnosis, treatment, patient management and/or access to care. Teams are encouraged to think beyond current regulations or restrictions preventing the new model from existing in the current environment. The proposals will be reviewed by a distinguished panel of judges and the winners will receive up to $25,000 in prizes.


Sleep Medicine Disruptors: Change Agents is designed to encourage sleep medicine practitioners, patients, and/or support staff to rethink the management of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Members of industry are encouraged to explore the Furthering the Advancement of Sleep Technology (FAST) Program. This program allows entrepreneurs and innovative technology companies the opportunity to request guidance, direction, and input from the AASM on the development of consumer and clinical sleep technologies that will benefit patients and providers.

Proposal Components

Proposals will consist of a pre-recorded presentation and a business case paper. Proposals will be judged on the following:

  • Quality of Presentation
  • Quality of Total Proposal
    • Originality
    • Feasibility
    • Impact
    • Comprehensiveness


The paper may not exceed 6,000 words (exhibits or appendices are not included in the total word count). Papers should include the following elements:

  • Executive Summary – High level overview of the proposal
  • Situation Analysis – Description of the current state/environmental market scan which may include financial/economic factors, the legislative/legal environment, emerging technology, competitors, target audience size, and/or a SWOT Analysis, surrounding the challenge
  • Solution Framework – Description of how the solution will be operationalized, such as cost, delivery model, infrastructure requirements, communication plans, and needed buy-in (including but not limited to payors, industry, academia, or patients)
  • Anticipated Impact – Description of the how the solution will be more effective, efficient, and patient-centered (including improving the patient experience) while improving total provider reimbursement and/or embody the triple aim.
  • Supporting Documents – Provide data, such as financial modeling, evidence of need/size of target audience, existing research and other evidence that supports the proposal.


Recorded presentations must be 10-15 minutes in length. This is your “Shark Tank” style pitch that should align with the executive summary. Teams may utilize slide decks, imbedded video, etc. and presentations may be given by one team member or shared equally.

Change Agents Resources

These resources have been gathered to help the Change Agents teams develop well-rounded proposals by discussing how to think as a disruptive innovator. While this is not required reading, teams are strongly encouraged to review some or all these resources for inspiration or direction prior to the three check-in to take full advantage of the opportunity to ask questions before the proposals are due.

Meet the Judges

Eugena Brooks joined the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) in 2018. An “aggressive” advocate, speaker, blogger, podcaster, and social media promoter Eugena has worked in corporate business, community service, education, and social work since 1977. She has a master’s in public administration from Long Island University at C W Post. Always active in some form of public service Eugena learned first-hand from her mother an advocate in her own right and whose obligations Eugena assumed when her mother became ill and died from cancer when Eugena was 18. Never one to shy away from a challenge Eugena has been a fierce effective advocate and mentor to all that have sought out her assistance.

Cathy Goldstein, MD is an Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of Michigan sleep disorders center where she cares for patients and participates in the training of future sleep physicians.  Dr. Goldstein’s scholarly activities include research that uses consumer sleep technology and mathematical modeling of sleep as well as the assessment of sleep patterns in other health states. She serves the sleep community with editorial responsibilities for UpToDate and Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine and leadership of the AASM Artificial Intelligence in Sleep Medicine Committee. At her institution, she is the sleep department physician champion for virtual health and enjoys various educational roles that target diverse learners such as the University of Michigan Athletics Department.

Dr. Kirsch is the Medical Director of Atrium Health Sleep Medicine, where he maintains an active clinical sleep practice and oversees sleep medicine for the health system. He is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Medicine at the UNC School of Medicine. He was the 2018-19 President of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and was the Program Chair for the SLEEP Meeting in 2012-14.  He has educated sleep clinicians across the country, speaking at many national meetings and major universities. He has authored many book chapters and peer-reviewed publications, edited several books, and has been interviewed on sleep medicine topics by CNN, the New York Times, NPR, and other national news sources. He is board-certified in neurology and sleep medicine and is a Fellow of both the AAN and AASM.

Charlie Whelan is the vice president of consulting for Frost & Sullivan’s Transformational Health business unit in the Americas. For more than two decades, Charlie has been working with companies in the healthcare and life sciences fields to better understand changes in the marketplace and to determine the best strategies for commercializing new technologies and services. Charlie has a strong focus on the medical devices sector having completed numerous projects in the sleep medicine field, including surveys of hundreds of Americans on their sleep habits. He is routinely interviewed by media organizations and speaks at industry events about the future of medical technology. In his consulting practice, Charlie has worked with leading companies such as GE, Philips, Medtronic, 3M, and Johnson & Johnson, as well as dozens of start-ups and associations.

Emerson M. Wickwire, PhD is a bio-behaviorally trained clinical psychologist and nationally recognized expert in sleep and sleep disorders. He holds the rank of Associate Professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where he has recently been appointed as Section Head, Sleep Medicine, to begin in July 2021. Following completion of his advanced training in sleep at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, he co-founded a leading interdisciplinary sleep medicine center that became a model for comprehensive sleep medicine centers throughout the country. Since returning to academia, Dr. Wickwire has developed a broad portfolio of sleep-related research that has been substantially funded by federal, foundation, and private industry partners. He has authored over 100 articles, book chapters, and abstracts, is Associate Editor of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, and serves on the editorial boards of SLEEP, Sleep Review, and Behavioral Sleep Medicine. His current research examines economic aspects of sleep disorders and their treatments, as well as remote monitoring and telehealth for sleep in medical and occupational settings.


A panel of judges will select the first and second-place winners. Attendees at SLEEP 2021 will be invited to vote on their favorite proposal.

Anticipated Prize Pool

  • $15,000 for 1st place team
  • $7,500 for 2nd place team
  • $2,500 for attendee favorite*

*First and second place teams are not eligible.

Change Agents Key Dates

Item Due Date
Team/Individual Applications Due April 5, 2021, 11:59am Eastern
Kick-Off Meeting
• Each team must have at least one representative attend. This is where teams will receive the assignment, and the 6-week countdown will begin.
• Teams may not add new members after the kick-off.
April 8, 2021 at 8:00pm Eastern
Three Week Check-In
• Each team must have at least one representative attend. This is an opportunity for teams to ask questions and confirm progress.
April 29, 2021, 8:00pm Eastern
Proposals Due
• A 10–15-minute pre-recorded presentation that explains the team’s concept.
• A Business Case Paper that explains your proposal. It must be less than 6,000 words, excluding any exhibits or appendices. The written document will provide any additional context unable to be shared within the pre-recorded presentation.
May 20, 2021, 11:59pm Eastern
1st and 2nd Place Winners Announced June 10, 2021 at SLEEP
People’s Choice Voting period June 10 – 20, 2021
People’s Choice Winner Announced June 25, 2021


The Sleep Medicine Disruptors event is about innovations and disruptions that are occurring around us. It is an overview of disruption caused by others. Change Agents is about getting sleep medicine professionals to become the disruptors. AASM believes sleep clinicians must embrace innovations and leverage them to advance the field. It is our hope that Change Agents will result in ideas that can eventually be put into practice. If an idea is really good, AASM may even advocate for it to become a reality.

People who are comfortable with technology, innovation, and disruptions in general. It is expected that teams are already familiar with artificial intelligence, precision medicine, and other recent clinical/consumer innovations.

Absolutely! This is a great opportunity for fellows to partner with colleagues within their institution or across institutions. If you win, it is also a great accomplishment to add to your CV.

Yes! Teams will need to provide evidence and support for a new model of care. It may be best to team up with a health economist, a researcher, or someone involved in public health. If you want to think even more outside the box, team up with a software developer or data scientist.

No! AASM wants the competition to generate the most innovative ideas, so we encourage participation by anyone who wants to be a Change Agent in the sleep field.

Due to the competitive nature of the event, you will receive minimal feedback during the competition. After judging concludes, you will receive detailed feedback from the judges.

Yes. We want participants to know the AASM is serious about thinking innovatively.