The Changing Environment of Sleep:
The face of healthcare and sleep medicine is changing, with trends including a movement toward patient-centered, integrated, and accountable care. The sleep field continues to face the rising prevalence of ambulatory sleep testing, as well as the arrival of telemedicine. On the horizon is the potential for new diagnostic testing options and devices that could dramatically change the role of in-lab sleep testing within the patient care continuum, and likewise the role of the sleep technologist. Patient compliance with therapy of all types is becoming more critical to the success of the sleep center, and the technology available for compliance monitoring continues to advance.
The AAST Board of Directors believes that certain tasks and roles may evolve to become the responsibility of lower-cost staff, such as medical assistants, while technologists will need to improve their skills, knowledge base, and education. Additionally, the board believes the organization needs to consider expanding its constituency to include other roles within the sleep center, such as medical assistants (MA’s), nurses, and respiratory therapists. The board believes new roles may emerge within the sleep center, such as a “Sleep MA” or a “Sleep Therapist” and that it may be appropriate for the organization to provide education for those filling various roles in the sleep center. If the AAST addresses these changing dynamics, it will be well positioned to define these roles and the educational standards for achieving a level of certification for these roles.
The AAST developed the 2018-2020 Strategic Plan to help guide the profession and association through this evolving and expanding field, and to successfully navigate the changing landscape of sleep healthcare. An updated strategic plan will be develop in 2021.