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Blog Feature

By: AAST Editor on December 18th, 2017

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Experts Weigh in on the Future of Sleep Technology

No one can be certain about what the future holds, but that didn’t stop Rich Rosenberg, Ph.D., AAST’s Education Consultant, from asking 16 sleep experts to consider what’s ahead for the sleep technology profession. While they don’t have psychic powers, the collection of perspectives found in AAST’s e-book “Predictions for the Sleep Technology Profession in 2018” are certainly the next best thing to clairvoyance.

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As Rosenberg writes, the experts “generally agree that technology will make things easier and provide more information,” and they “provide some advice on how to position sleep technology in a future where the technology runs itself.” However, he also notes that few commented on the future of sleep therapy, which he says the profession needs to address in order to improve adherence to PAP therapy.

“Several contributions focused on patient-centered or individualized medicine. It’s clear that CPAP is not a “one size fits all” solution to OSA – so how do we know what will work? Two approaches emerge: 1) using objective data to identify the genes and biomarkers that suggest a specific treatment will likely be successful, and 2) using subjective data to identify patients who have responded to a particular treatment and apply that treatment to other patients with similar subjective profiles. Technology will give us access to a new world of data, and we need to be able to sort through it to determine key indicators for success,” Rosenberg writes.

Below is a sampling of some of the expert viewpoints:

“The role of sleep technologists will evolve into an expanded profession, and their scope of practice will embrace a more comprehensive approach to sleep medicine.” —Daniel D. Lane BS, RPSGT, CCSH, President, Board of Directors, Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists

“We are currently at a crossroads. On one side of the spectrum, we have well-validated and FDA-approved medical-grade devices and algorithms. On the other side of the spectrum, we have non-FDA approved consumer wearables and devices. Our hope for the future is a hybrid one. We are actively advocating for medical grade sensors and algorithms that can be marketed and sold in a consumer ‘box.’” —Adam Amdur, Chief Patient Officer, and Carl Stepnowsky, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer, American Sleep Apnea Association

“My view of the future of sleep technology is that it will continue to be home based and will revolve more around the consumer. Devices that measure and quantify sleep, such as the FitBit, will continue to refine their algorithms, and patients will come to their healthcare providers with this data and want answers.” —Nancy Collop, MD, Director, Emory Sleep Center

“Major advances into nanotechnology and nanomaterials, molecular engineering and molecular circuits and biologic interfaces will permit seamless assessments of physiology and disease in a naturalistic environment, i.e., “anywhere” as the standard point of diagnostics and care.” —David Gozal, MD, MBA, Herbert T. Abelson Professor, University of Chicago

“In recent years, sleep diagnostics has expanded from polysomnography to include home sleep apnea testing. As a result in-lab testing will require advanced trained sleep technologists to handle more challenging cases and cutting-edge therapy programming. The practice of subjective sleep staging will slowly diminish as the role of spectral analysis increases.” —Edwin Valladares MS, RPSGT, RST, Keck Medical Center of USC Sleep Disorders Center

“I expect that in the not-too-distant future we will be diagnosing and treating the majority of our patients from the comfort of their homes, and our sleep centers will be reserved for our complicated high-risk patients with significant co-morbidities. The technologist of the future needs to be comfortable with technology, have a thorough understanding of sleep disorders and the medical conditions that cause, contribute to or complicate them, and the rapidly expanding options for treatment, many of which are quickly becoming mainstream options. I see the future as bright and unlimited.” —Rita Brooks, M.Ed., RPSGT, R. EEG/EP T., Director of Diagnostic Services at Capital Health, AAST President

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