From Sleep Technologist To Chief Executive: Richard Bonato Dreams of Innovation
How did Richard Bonato go from sleep technologist to CEO?
It’s become commonplace to criticize home sleep testing (HST) for posing a threat to PSG test usage and the jobs of the sleep technologists that run them.
But that’s not the only fear that lacks perspective.
Dentists, an expected ally of sleep medicine, were once viewed with skepticism by sleep technologists. But the potential partnership could be one of gold, according to Dr. Richard Bonato, President and CEO of Braebon Medical Corporation, a leading provider of sleep diagnostic systems.
“It’s really the ability to have an evolving perspective that made the difference,” says Bonato, whose company has commanding international presence on six continents.
Like many successful startups, Braebon (a name that wed the last names of Bonato and Don Bradley, his founding partner) started in the basement. About 18 years ago, Braebon Medical started in a 300 square feet space that was patrolled by a cat named Zena, who is also 18 years old now.
“We really bootstrapped ourselves when it came to funding and a lot of exciting changes have happened with Braebon,” says Bonato. “Now we’re in an 8,000 square feet space with more than 30 employees. We’ve received FDA clearance for our products and even came up with the concept of MediPalm, which is what we call a sleep lab in the palm of your hands.”
From Sleep Technologist to CEO
But why did you go into sleep?
This question prompted Bonato to recall the time when he was a sleep technologist working his night shifts.
“Even before I started studying sleep in 1986, I picked up an issue of National Geographic Magazine and the title was “Why We Sleep?’ So I read it and thought there has to be a job in here somewhere because I thought sleep was so fascinating,” Rick says.
So he went on to get his Bachelor’s and wrote a thesis on insomnia at Brock University and subsequently earned his Master’s and Doctorate degrees specializing in sleep at Carleton University while working as a night technologist (his registration number was 604).
“I think sleep technologists are an integral part of sleep medicine,” he adds. “For me, it’s garbage in and garbage out, I don’t care how good your algorithm is because data fundamentally assumes that all data is good data, which is so often not the case. You need to have people double check to see if the data is being processed correctly.”
That’s why the role of the sleep technologist is so crucial, according to Bonato.
“Just because something isn't broken doesn’t mean you can’t evolve,” he says. Sleep technologists need to evolve by adopting new technologies and tools that means embracing HST and thinking about how home sleep testing can change your life.”
With a lot of talk about the evolving role of the sleep technologists and how the field is changing there is one piece of advice Bonato gives all aspiring sleep technologists and the veterans workers of sleep medicine.
It’s time to shift your paradigm.