Hope everyone had a relaxing and enjoyable 4th of July. My thoughts for this week center around STANDARDS. The AASM has set the standards for sleep medicine since its inception many years ago: Practice parameters; center accreditation; standards for physicians, which eventually morphed into the American Board of Sleep Medicine; ASTEP, an education program for sleep technologists; DME accreditation; out-of-center sleep testing accreditation; the list goes on.

But all of these processes require constant evaluation and re-evaluation to keep them current. As the field has grown, so has the AASM staff, by leaps and bounds, to stay ahead of the required changes. The staff, along with the AASM committees, are constantly reviewing these standards. As healthcare reform looms large, the AASM – as the leader in the field of sleep medicine – needs to stay ahead of the curve by anticipating changes and being nimble in improving our standards as necessary.

Over this next year, we will be taking a very careful look at our Standards of Practice process and our center accreditation standards. We will be focusing our ongoing “Future of Sleep Medicine” process on a critical evaluation of healthcare reform, examining issues like the electronic medical record, pay for performance, workforce needs and accountable care organizations. The challenge will be trying to make our standards fit for not only the large, urban, hospital-based organizations, but also for the rural freestanding clinics.

The taskforce on examining the standards of practice process, headed by Tim Morgenthaler, is addressing issues related to time to completion, increasing resource demands, scope creep, and updating methodology and quality of the products. He now has three working groups addressing these tasks: developing a revised process for producing SOP and other “guideline” products that meet criteria and needs; a critical review of the current “stock” of products, determining which should be retired and which need a focused update or new full review; and finally determining the best type of documents to use going forward. We hope to have a process in place soon that will address these issues.

Regarding center accreditation, I have asked President-elect Sam Fleishman to start to develop a process for revising our accreditation standards that will hopefully put us in line with the ongoing push toward quality, safety and outcomes. I hope by the end of my presidency that we will have a blueprint on how to move forward with these vexing issues, but I am not so naïve to think that we will have all the answers to how to proceed in the future!

Nancy Collop, MD
President, American Academy of Sleep Medicine