Founded in 1975, both the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Microsoft are celebrating 40th anniversaries in 2015. As the AASM continues our mission to improve sleep health and promote high quality patient centered care, there is an important lesson we can learn from Microsoft’s history.

In its early years Microsoft achieved great success with MS-DOS, a new operating system designed for IBM personal computers. It was innovative. It was effective. But it wasn’t as good as it could be.

So Microsoft’s computer engineers went back to work. They used MS-DOS as a platform on which they built a new and better system: Windows. Today the Windows operating system runs on about 90 percent of the desktop computers in the world.

Similarly, we’ve worked hard to establish sleep medicine as a respected medical subspecialty. We’ve developed innovative diagnostic and therapeutic solutions. We provide effective medical care. But sleep medicine isn’t as good as it could be.

The changes occurring in the U.S. health care system, which have been accelerated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), give us a window of opportunity to build a better operating system for the field of sleep medicine. That is why the AASM is working hard on multiple fronts to optimize the sleep field for a new era of patient-centered, value-based care. Task forces currently are making great progress on initiatives related to telemedicine and electronic health records.

The AASM also has been developing new sleep medicine quality measures, which I had the privilege of presenting recently to attendees at Sleep Medicine Trends 2015. Workgroup papers describing these measures in detail and suggesting implementation strategies are about to be published in a special section of the March 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Promoting high quality care in sleep medicine has always been a focus of the AASM, which accredited the first sleep center in 1977 and began developing evidence-based practice standards about 25 years ago. Now it is critical for us as sleep specialists to define quality of care for our own field before outside parties attempt to do it for us. Furthermore, we must assert without equivocation that quality is an essential component of the value proposition in sleep medicine; value is not achieved simply by cutting costs. We must measure quality to move sleep health care forward.

I encourage every member to read the quality measures papers in the March issue of JCSM. I also welcome your thoughts and comments, which you can share with me at

Let’s continue working together to make sleep medicine better.


Timothy Morgenthaler, MD