The following is a transcript of the speech delivered by AASM President Nancy Collop, MD at the SLEEP 2012 AASM Membership Meeting:

Well it has been quite a year! There have been enjoyable, exasperating and disappointing experiences.  I have learned a lot about relationships, alliances, society politics and what things are really important in the big picture.  I have enjoyed the opportunity to represent the AASM in the media, as a speaker and at important meetings.  Although there have been some incredible challenges for those of us in the field this year, I am convinced we are doing well as both a society and a specialty.

I want to recognize a few people who have been incredibly helpful this year.  First is my husband who tolerated my frequent trips and weekends on the road, my late hours and innumerable evening phone calls.  It was a little rocky at times, but he was a real trooper and tolerated all of it – thank you.  I would like to thank my Emory colleagues for tolerating my absences and seemingly endless phone calls!

David Frost said:  Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.  I would like to think that this year was a successful year and that this quote describes my commitment to the field of sleep medicine and to the AASM.  However, any success that is attributed to this year came with the support of the AASM staff.  I wish every one of them were here so I could personally thank them.  Each one of them that I interacted with was professional and efficient. 

I would also like to recognize the board of directors for their support.  Running our board meetings can be a major challenge and at times like herding cats – but we were able to accomplish a great deal this year and as you will hear from our incoming president – have a lot more planned.  Thanks to all of you for your support and dedication to the AASM.  I would also be remiss if I didn’t thank all of our committee and taskforce members and chairs.  Many of them put in countless volunteer hours to help us make the AASM the successful society it is today.  

So what did we accomplish this year?

I believe the signature piece we worked on this year actually was initiated during Pat Strollo’s presidency.  We went to CMS in May 2011 with a rough outline for an integrated management proposal to lay the groundwork for a new care delivery model for patients with obstructive sleep apnea.  In the fall we repackaged and added details to the model and applied for one of the CMS Innovation Grants.  This was the first time the AASM had taken on such an endeavor, and again, many kudos to Jerry, Kathleen, Tom and the staff for pulling this together with a very short timeline.  We recently found out that our grant did not get funded in the first round although there is a second round of funding to be announced.  However, the enthusiasm and buzz around this proposal that places the board certified sleep specialist in the center of not only diagnosis but chronic management and tracking long term outcomes has been incredible.  So much so that the BOD is committed to pursuing this model and will likely be self-funding this proposal in some manner with details to be determined.

I hope you all enjoyed my HypnoGrams!  I really wish I could have written more, but they were fun to write and I hope you found them a least somewhat entertaining and informative.

A few other initiatives that rolled out this year included a taskforce to examine how sleep centers are using advanced practice nurses and physicians assistants.  This taskforce headed up by Loretta Colvin, a NP, had several conferences calls and developed 2 surveys.  The taskforce is presenting a session here at the meeting to discuss the survey results and will continue their efforts to further characterize and assist this provider population as they are assuming important roles in sleep centers.  The taskforce is organizing their first CME course for NP’s and PA’s as well.  We as a society want to understand their roles and try to meet their educational needs.

Last year we were beginning to look at how to revise our Standards of Practice process.  Thanks to Tim Morganthaler, we have a new process which we believe will allow a faster throughput of papers with longitudinal board involvement.  We have several groups now working on these papers which include:

    Diagnostic testing for adult OSA

  • Practice parameters for treatment with oral appliances
  • Practice parameters for treatment of circadian rhythm disorders
  • Practice parameters for actigraphy
  • In addition we published or will be publishing new practice parameters on RLS/PLMD, respiratory and nonrespiratory indications for polysomnography in children, and central sleep apnea.

One of the most challenging papers we got through our rigorous board review process this year was the “sleep apnea definitions” paper – or SAD.  Major kudos need to go to Rich Berry for his work on this paper.  This was recently approved by the board and will be published in JCSM this year.  Since the taskforce has recommended and the board has approved a standardized definition for hypopneas; we are also planning to petition CMS to reanalyze their current criteria.  As a corollary to this project, Rich is also heading up a new Scoring Manual taskforce.  This taskforce will be working with the staff to move the 2007 paper version of the Scoring Manual to an online, updateable version – hopefully by October 2012.

Dr Sateia and the ICSD3 working group has been working diligently on updating the nosology.  There is also a session at this meeting which will give our members a preview of the definitions – please plan to attend if you are curious about potential changes.  Another grateful thank you goes out to Mike and his committee for their efforts.

I had the opportunity to attend a meeting at the ABIM this year on maintenance of certification.  There are big changes in the offing for this process for ABIM and the other ABMS specialty boards.  We at the AASM have a MOC committee now which is forging ahead developing MOC modules and we, as the premier sleep society, will work to help keep our members up to date on the anticipated changes in MOC.

A few other items to note – our coding and compliance group developed a new pediatric polysomnography code which was ultimately accepted by the CPT committee – special thanks to Amy Aronsky, Sam and Larry Epstein for leading the way on that.   We have also really tried to step up our advocacy efforts on “the hill” this year.  This was an attempt to raise the profile of sleep for both Congress and federal agencies.  We are looking for legislation on including screening for OSA as part of the Welcome to Medicare physical.  We have also met with the Teamsters to promote SAFE-T (in contrast to Safe – R for medical personnel) and in general are looking to increase our PAC funding.  And I can boast that 100% of the AASM BOD contributed to the AASM PAC funding this year – I hope you will also consider contributing to support our lobbying efforts as having a presence in DC is critical.

In closing, everyone in healthcare is facing serious challenges, and we in sleep medicine are no different.  But here we are, at the largest meeting the APSS has had to date, with the most accredited sleep centers and the highest number of board certified sleep specialists.  The AASM added their 10,000th member this year – clearly the largest society dedicated to sleep medicine in the world.  We are financially stable and have an incredible staff at the home office to help us stay ahead of the curve with regards to sleep medicine education, patient care and research.  We will be embarking on a strategic planning process this year that will hopefully position us to continue to meet the member needs, remain financially strong and confront the challenges facing healthcare delivery today.  It has been an honor and privilege to serve as the president of such a forward thinking and progressive society. Thank you.