Is AI the Future for Sleep Testing?
It seems like every industry is being changed by artificial intelligence, or AI.
AI is designed to help humans be more efficient in certain aspects of production. While industries like manufacturing have been greatly affected by this ever-evolving technology, how it will affects others has yet to be seen.
But in the sleep care field, one professional is using the new technology to improve patient care and make her sleep center more efficient.
Laura Linley, CRT, RPSGT, FAAST, is the vice president of clinical operations at Advanced Sleep Management. Linley, who also is an AAST past president, said she and her team have started using AI to aid in automated scoring.
The AI uses complex algorithms to score sleep tests. Using historical data and built-in calculations, the computer learned how sleep care professionals identify events on a sleep test. To program the system — and get it operating correctly — took nearly a year.
Once a test is run through AI, a human checks the test to see that everything is consistent and correct. What Linley found, though, was the computer was astoundingly accurate.
“With AI, I’ve found it’s giving us more consistent event marking and staging,” she says. “We never just run with AI and call it a day. We still have oversights, but it was decreased time and processing our reports, and we’ve become more efficient in getting our reports out.”
There were several reasons Linley and her team moved to AI. With more clients having home sleep tests — an increasing number of whom are complex patients — human resources needed to be focused on other tasks. She pointed out training someone to read a sleep test can be costly and time consuming, and with more and more patients, turnover can be an issue.
Using AI on the back end allows Linley to use human capital to make sure patients are being cared for. And it’s allowed her business to grow at a cost-effective pace.
“We can now shift our resources to taking care of our patients and making sure the appropriate tests are being done,” she says. “Sleep labs are noting if all you’re doing is diagnosis. We need to make sure the appropriate tests are being done and the appropriate therapies are being applied.”
While Linley understands apprehension to using AI in the sleep lab, she urges people to reconsider.
“Any time there is a change in the industry, there is always this feeling that our jobs are threatened,” she says. “I think it’s important for sleep labs to be aware of the technology and understand how it can support your role, not take away from it. I was the same way. I was hesitant until we made it work.”
This is Part One of AAST's blog series The Technology of Sleep: How the Digital World is Changing the Sleep-Care Field.