June 29, 2008

Catching my breath...

It may be a cliche... but there just aren't hours in the day to get done everything that needs to be done and not the least of which is posting content in this space.

May 1st marks the beginning of year 5 as the executive director of the ASAA and I get the distinct sense that the great wave of awareness about sleep apnea is nearing the crest. All the work done by us and others is about to reap the award of national/international attention being focused on this life- threatening condition. One hint that "we" have arrived... Phillips, and a second... Medtronic and one more just for good measure J&J .

So I will pause to look back over the past year and couple months, but not for long. There is no resting on your laurels here... it is a lot more of "what are you doing for me NOW".

Two significant happenings, one internal and one external in the past year are likely to shape the future of the association's work and the focus of my activities:

The video was unveiled to the medical community at the American Thoracic Society meeting in Toronto. There is was great interest among the physicians attending from outside North America. In fact, the video is now playing in Poland, Qatar, Venezuela and the Czech Republic. In addition to the English language version there is a version in Spanish as well. There were a number of inquiries about creating a version in Arabic, Portuguese and Chinese... (these are items for the ever lengthening to do list).

The video proved to be very popular at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (aka Sleep) meeting as well. Sleep Technologists passing by the booth stopped to watch and took advantage of the discounted price to pick up a copy or two for the office. Watch it here.

The timing of creating this video could not be more on target and this is due to the second happening - the external one that will most definitely shape the future work of the association:

This decision, which modifies the basis of how Medicare will provide reimbursement for the prescription of CPAP therapy for the treatment of OSA, is a watershed event. Once fully implemented, and the non-government insurance companies adopt (which they usually do to keep life simple) the practice of allowing the use of home sleep studies for the diagnosis of sleep apnea... there is likely to be many, many more people getting diagnosed and hopefully treated. There is likely to be many with questions and concerns. Who will they turn to when they can't reach their primary care physician, sleep specialist or the respiratory therapist associated with the home care company? Three guesses... Google - more on this next time.

I had the good fortune to have a friend recommend a book to me that significantly influenced the way I think about moving the ASAA forward... Good to Great, by Jim Collins and in particular the monograph he wrote for the benefit of non-profit organizations.

The beauty of this book and I highly recommend it to all people in either the for-profit or non-profit sector is the simplicity of the main idea for moving an organization from good to great... the Hedgehog Concept:
I am pretty clear on the two of the three circles...Our challenge in the coming months will be to answer the question - What drives your economic engine. It is vital that the leadership of the ASAA do so, because our long-term success depends on us clearly identifying what it is and using it to measure our success to those who will support our operations in the future.

Thanks for checking in and I will be back with future directions soon.

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