As the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) ushers in changes that are likely to alter the landscape of health care delivery in the U.S., the field of sleep medicine is undergoing its own transformation. In some regions of the country, out of center sleep testing (OCST) has become the predominant testing modality for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), forcing sleep specialists to evaluate our practice models.
“The Future is Here,” my editorial in the Sept. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, outlines current priorities for the sleep field and the AASM. I encourage you to read the full text of the editorial, which describes the following points of emphasis in more detail.
First, it is critical to ensure that insurance coverage and reimbursement policies for sleep medicine services are implemented equitably so that patients receive the highest quality of care. The AASM continues to have positive, open dialogue with payers, and an archive of recent letters to and from private payers is available to members on the Practice Management page of the AASM website.
Second, as health care reform places greater emphasis on the outcome of care and cost reduction, our challenge is to develop models for coordinated care that promote high quality and cost effectiveness. Therefore, future models of care in the era of the patient centered medical home (PCMH) must involve a synergistic partnership between accredited sleep centers and primary care providers.
Third, we must address concerns that the supply of sleep specialists may be unable to meet the demand for sleep medicine services in the near future. It is critical for us to increase awareness of sleep as a scientific discipline and a career path at all levels of medical education, while also expanding the reach of sleep medicine practices far beyond the walls of a sleep center.
All of these issues will be discussed at a summit of sleep medicine stakeholders and thought leaders that the AASM will be hosting later this fall. I intend for this meeting to produce actionable and practical steps forward.
As your professional society, the AASM is committed to addressing the most urgent and pressing needs of our members and the entire sleep field.
M. Safwan Badr, MD