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AASM president: Sleep apnea is more than just ‘annoying’ snoring

AASM president: Sleep apnea is more than just ‘annoying’ snoring

James RowleyDARIEN, Ill. – When it comes to awareness of sleep apnea, the message is getting out there, but it’s not amplified enough, says Dr. James Rowley, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s new president. 

“I think we need to keep reinforcing that message and getting people to think about talking to their primary care doctor,” said Rowley, who is currently transitioning to a new role as a professor of medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “Even in my time at Rush, I've already seen a bunch of younger guys whose wives just can't stand this snoring and they know that it's more than just annoying.” 

Rowley spoke with HME News recently about how he believes providers can supply valuable feedback on CPAP therapy and about why he’s mostly underwhelmed by artificial intelligence. 

HME News: What’s top of the agenda for you in your new role at AASM? 

Dr. James Rowley: The big thing we have going on this year is we're going to be doing strategic planning – the word I like to use is strengthen – what our existing plan is. I’d like to see where we might go to get the message out even more and do more advocacy work on public awareness. One of the areas that has come up is working more with primary care physicians and how can we partner with them to get them to ask about sleep and then making sure patients get to sleep physicians for the proper work up.   

HME: CPAP machines are being featured more on TV shows and the president recently said he has sleep apnea. Does that contribute to public awareness about the importance of sleep? 

Dr. Rowley: As long as it's done correctly, I think it’s great. There was a show recently where they had a CPAP, and even though it was a comedy, they still were taking this seriously, instead of treating it like a joke. Even just the Inspire commercials – even though they are obviously going after people to get Inspire – I think it's the awareness that sleep apnea is not just the wildly obese patient, it really can be a wide variety of people that have sleep apnea. 

HME: How can CPAP providers work better with medical professionals to help patients? 

Dr. Rowley: To me, the best thing that DME providers can do is to have some type of program where they are, as much as possible, monitoring patients and providing feedback about use or non-use. There's a couple of good studies out there that show that just simple feedback really helps with adherence. The more they can let us know about patients who are truly problem patients early on, the more we can get them into the clinic faster. 

HME: Everybody's suddenly talking about AI. Are you seeing anything in technology right now that's exciting? 

Dr. Rowley: I think the short answer is no. You’ve got all these companies looking at it, but how are you going to help me get it into my practice? I went to a lecture where they were showing that they were doing more remote monitoring of sleep apnea over time and getting more of the data that is available off the adherence cards and then using that to (give) feedback to the patient about how they're doing and how they could do better. How can we bring that to the individual patient level, or could we integrate some of the things into Fitbit or Apple watches and tell people about their sleep? I think for a lot of patients if we can find ways to integrate some of these wearables and AI and get them more involved in their care that could be quite helpful.


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