Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  Now the holiday rush filled with shopping, parties, more family visits and, for many of us, a few days of rest and relaxation! 

The AASM received an early Christmas gift this year.  CMS has a process to apply for the “Health Care Innovation Challenge.”  They are awarding up to $1 billion in grants for those who implement “the most compelling new ideas to deliver health, improved care and lower costs.”  The AASM is up to the challenge, and we are planning to submit a modified version of our integrated care delivery model for obstructive sleep apnea.  The award cycles are March 2012 and August 2012.  We will submit our letter of intent by Dec. 19 and the full application by Jan. 27, 2012.  The AASM staff are working like the elves at the North Pole right now, pulling data and writing drafts.  Although there is lots of work to do, I am confident that we will be able to produce a magnificent application that CMS will approve.

I am a strong believer that this is the way of the future for our field.  We have to focus on streamlining care; choosing the right diagnostic tool for each patient; and not only initiating but managing treatment, be it CPAP, dental appliance or surgery; with the ultimate goal to show improved health for the individual over a prolonged period of time, not just three months. 

Not many physicians would argue that reimbursement for medical care has been the ultimate driver for patient care – in my opinion in a negative way.  Since procedures are the easiest thing to track, they have been the most important revenue generator – both for our field and many others.  However, as government agencies and patient groups are demanding, improving care and outcomes are really a more appropriate methodology.  So it is a win-win for all involved if we can develop a program that will improve patient care and potentially contain some costs without resulting in a dramatic downturn in revenue.

We look forward to updating you on this as we continue to develop this plan and subsequent changes in our accreditation models to accommodate these ongoing demands.  In the meantime, enjoy the shopping and parties!

Nancy Collop, MD