For an apnea patient I can imagine that entering an exhibit hall filled with CPAP machines and masks could be like a child entering a toy store near Christmas (maybe not).
I can't say that I have become jaded having been to several exhibits of sleep apnea therapeutic devices, but with some of the machines out there the changes are subtle and it takes a user to appreciate them fully.
But then, there are the new kids on the block... folks who come up something so very different, even I have to stop and say Wow. Last year was Aeiomed's battery-powered machine... the Everest. This year, for me the show stoppers were the mobile CPAP - BreathEx and the new mask - Hybrid. I was familiar with the BreathEx - Tom Hoffman having spent some time on the Apnea Support Forum asking questions and getting input from the participants. I had also gotten a preview at an A.W.A.K.E. meeting I had attended in San Diego.
I was unfamiliar with the HyBrid, in fact I would have missed for all other masks there if there hadn't been a comment on the Forum. Certainly it is a clever design... nasal pillows combined with a full face mask. It is one more example to support my comment - there is a mask for every face and person.
Having an exhibit at the Sleep meeting is very important. If you are in the sleep field as someone who distributes anything to others in the sleep field... if you are not there, you have dropped off the planet (period, full stop). I am not sure I can say that about the other meetings we attend as exhibitors, I can without a doubt say that about Sleep.
Working the booth gives you the opportunity to put a face with many of the voices over the telephone during the course of the year. It is also the chance to make new friends and to make them aware of the work of the organization... yes there are still people out there who don't know about the ASAA.
I enjoy speaking with the physicians and the other exhibitors who stop by the booth to say hello and looking for new material... but my favorites are the sleep techs, the women and men who are on the frontlines of patient care in the field of sleep medicine, many of whom run support groups affiliated with the ASAA through the A.W.A.K.E. Network. I was always happy to give them a gold pin with ASAA logo.
Next the sessions.