Following is an excerpt from AASM President Dr. Nathaniel Watson’s editorial that is published in the Feb. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

In January the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) officially launched AASM SleepTM, a state-of-the-art telemedicine platform that was designed specifically for the sleep field by the AASM. This milestone represents the dawn of a new era for sleep medicine. Through AASM SleepTM, the potential now exists for any patient in any state or U.S. territory – including those in the most remote rural areas and underserved urban communities – to receive quality care from a board-certified sleep medicine physician and the sleep team at an AASM-accredited sleep facility. For patients all across the U.S., access to sleep medicine expertise is now a reality.

In addition to improving patient access to high quality sleep care, telemedicine provides unprecedented convenience that will enhance the patient experience of care. By connecting with a sleep specialist through live, web-based video visits instead of traveling to the sleep center, patients can save valuable time and money. For example, a recent analysis of all telemedicine visits at one Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital found that telemedicine resulted in an average travel savings of 145 miles and 142 minutes per visit.1 The convenience of telemedicine appointments also enables patients to take less time off from work, which is one reason why telemedicine programs can result in high levels of patient satisfaction.2 This convenience can be especially important for the long-term management of a chronic disease such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In fact, one study of a comprehensive, telemedicine-based OSA management pathway found that patient feedback “was overwhelmingly positive.”3

By improving patient access and convenience, telemedicine promotes positive health outcomes. The effectiveness of telemedicine depends on a variety of factors, including the severity of the condition and the function of the intervention.4 It also relies on the expertise of the provider, which is why I’m so optimistic about the potential impact of telemedicine on the sleep field. Board-certified sleep medicine physicians and the team of health care professionals at accredited sleep facilities provide the highest quality of care for patients with sleep disorders, and this care has been shown to be associated with better treatment adherence.5 Now, through AASM SleepTM, sleep specialists have a powerful tool that facilitates exceptional care more conveniently and for more patients with OSA, chronic insomnia and other sleep disorders.

Read the complete editorial, Expanding Patient Access to Quality Sleep Health Care through Telemedicine, in the Feb. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Watson NF. Expanding patient access to quality sleep health care through telemedicine. J Clin Sleep Med 2016;12(2):155–156.