Lisa M. Bond on Supporting Patients Outside the Sleep Center
Lisa M. Bond, RST, RPSGT, is the director of clinical services and scoring at Advanced Sleep Management LLC. AAST caught up with her for insight on the evolution of sleep services in healthcare.
On the sleep professional’s role in educating other healthcare professionals.
I see us being educators and advisers to those roles. Teaching them what to look for to help identify patients that need initial diagnosis and treatment, as well as helping us find patients that have fallen through the cracks, patients that did not follow up after their diagnosis and get the titration or get an auto-titration for at home. They would also need education on identifying and helping get patients back in for further evaluation that may not have had an in-lab titration for their CPAP and may actually need one. Education on how to encourage the actual use of the device, plus education on recognizing when an oral device may not be fully working for a patient and getting them in for further evaluation. For example, they may have stabilized the breathing, but the patient may have a secondary sleep disorder that is left untreated. The patient is not “done” after they leave the sleep center and they certainly are not “done’ after having a HSAT or an auto-titration at home. We need to take a team approach to healthcare for these patients.
On what “supporting outside the sleep center” looks like.
We need to see more healthcare professionals following up with patients directly and giving them more advice and support. I find some things online are wrong, or not appropriate for that particular patient’s needs or issues. There needs to be more sleep clinic days occurring where offices spend the day focusing on their patients with those kinds of issues and utilizing sleep professionals to do so.
Healthcare workers need to be directly asking the patient open-ended questions that encourage dialogue. Too many questions are put to the patient in a yes/no format, and that tends to lead to the patient saying everything is fine when it is not. It also makes the patient feel a bit rushed. I like to list certain common issues, and bluntly say they are common issues, for the type of sleep disorder and treatment the patient has. Once a patient realizes that it is a common thing, they may be more willing to say they are indeed experiencing that and get the advice and help they need. It is really easy for the patient to think they are the only one experiencing something and not say anything about it.
On how to make other disciplines “care” about sleep as much as sleep techs.
Honestly, I don’t know how to make anyone “care.” That is a problem across the board with people who see things as a job, a means to make money, not a career, or who are working in a field that is not their passion. Sadly, that is not solely a problem for sleep but for all fields in general. The only thing that can be done is for those in the position to do so to try and hire candidates that truly are invested in their career and passionate about it. Easier said than done, I know. However, with medicine moving more toward a patient-outcomes model, the incentive to do this is increasing and is more to the benefit of all involved.