Climbing the Sleep Medicine Ladder

In this month’s sleep story, I am lucky. You are lucky. We are lucky, because we are able to dive into a sleep story candidate that is so close to home. We get to highlight another hard-working, driven, passionate sleep professional. She’s started her career in sleep on the night shift, scoring studies and supporting patients. 

From there, she worked her way into the spotlight of sleep medicine, helping to create one of the first sleep navigation programs. In 2022, she is slated to take over as the President of the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists (BRPT) for the 2022-2023 event years. Who is this amazing sleep professional? She’s our very own clinical informaticist, Andrea Ramberg, BA, CCSH, RPSGT. 

Finding Sleep Medicine was a Blessing 

Ramberg started as a registered polysomnographic technologist (RPSGT), performing sleep studies at night, learning about therapies and treatment options, and eventually, moving into the day shift. Over the next decade, Ramberg learned the art of PSG sleep scoring. As a career-driven individual, Ramberg wanted to master everything related to the sleep medicine business. She entrenched herself in the full sleep journey, from supporting the durable medical equipment (DME) program, setting up patients on therapy (CPAP, BiPAP, and more), to engaging regularly during physician visits, to handling the day to day sleep center operations. Ramberg attributes her rise to the outstanding education and support she received from mentors and colleagues along the way.

“I was extremely fortunate to have forward-thinking mentors at each stage of my career, including Laura Linley, who challenged me to push myself on a daily basis,” said Ramberg.

In a piece for the American Association of Sleep Technologists (AAST), she credited those mentors and the skills she learned as the catalysts for her career trajectory. In fact, the support she received gave her the confidence to change the lives of the patients in her community, leading to a new sleep navigation opportunity. 

It is Ramberg’s experience and influence that helped the BRPT define the roles for which you can use the new Certification in Clinical Sleep Health (CCSH) credential. This certificate assesses the professional competence of sleep care providers and educators, and provides an educational experience for sleep technologists looking to make a larger difference in the lives of their sleep patients. 

What is a Sleep Navigator? 

A sleep navigator is a special role within a hospital or health system. The primary goal of a sleep navigator is to help reduce readmission rates by identifying patients who have a greater risk for sleep disorders, like obstructive sleep apnea. The sleep navigator works to improve the care pathway for these patients, primarily through education for both the general public and personal care physicians (PCPs). How do sleep navigators go about educating these two audiences?

For patients, it is important to help patients understand what to expect during the process of a sleep test, what an OSA or other diagnosis might mean for their short- and long-term health, and ultimately, what treatment plans will help them live their best life. Proper education leads to a better patient comprehension of both what their sleep disorder means and what their future treatment might entail.

Sleep Navigators are Impacting Health Systems in a few key ways EnsoData

A sleep navigator serves as the eyes and ears for physicians, supporting them in areas such as education and care planning. Sleep has often been the forgotten part of health, but a sleep navigator helps bring awareness to this critical aspect of healthcare. Navigators work with doctors to identify undiagnosed or non-compliant patients. Additionally, navigators provide another set of eyes to watch for comorbid conditions patients may be presenting. To be a successful sleep navigator, one must have a specific set of skills, but these skills can be developed. 

Highlighting the Skills of a Sleep Navigator

“Being a sleep navigator requires proficiency in pathophysiology, epidemiology, and both sleep disorders and their treatment options…Education and management of patients with sleep disorders requires understanding of multifaceted disease processes,” said Ramberg.  She also highlighted the benefit of her industrial and organizational psychology graduate program with a focus in change management. Understanding how an organization will accept and adhere to new changes can be difficult for some, but Ramberg makes it seem like a breeze.

“Taking care of the sleep needs of the world involves inhabiting space in new, exciting areas. In order to do that we must expand our comfort zones and push ourselves to new heights,” said Ramberg.

And in the past year, she’s taken her own advice to heart, stepping out of the clinical setting and into the world of AI sleep scoring as our team’s clinical informaticist. 

What is a Clinical Informaticist? 

A clinical informaticist is a healthcare professional who uses their knowledge and skills to apply information technology and an information-based approach to deliver care. Clinical informaticists must be experts in the data they review, and that’s what Ramberg has brought to the EnsoData team and the EnsoSleep algorithm. Her specific knowledge of how to score a study is crucial when modeling the nuances of sleep staging and scoring. 

Ramberg is also exceptionally skilled at conversing with our customers. Sleep techs who might have specific questions or concerns regarding the ability of AI to score and stage tests can truly get into the nitty gritty with Ramberg. With a decade of experience scoring tests, they share a common language. Phrases like, “eyes on the top of the page” or “a patient having REM rebound once they begin treatment” are part of Ramberg’s dialogue. This ability to understand challenges techs are seeing has helped dozens of organizations fine-tune the scoring that EnsoSleep provides. So, why is that such an important role? 

Ramberg’s Skills Make a Difference at EnsoData 

For all machine learning solutions, the output is only as consistent and dependable as the inputs. If the AI model isn’t tracking the correct fields, then it can’t output the correct analysis. With our AI-assisted sleep scoring solution, EnsoSleep, we are able to tailor the scoring to each organization’s preferences. In that regard, Ramberg serves as a bridge between the sleep technologists and our AI technology, helping to ease many technician concerns.

“AI Scoring simplifies the scoring process for technologists. Because AI can iterate and improve with each successive version, these scoring solutions are empowering sleep professionals to focus on what computers can’t: patient care. Unlike AI, clinicians can read the facial and body queues of patients. When they have more time for patient care, they can better educate their patients on what to expect, what their diagnosis means for them, and what treatment options are available. The sleep health professional can foster the continuum of care, highlight areas to focus on, and provide education to our patients, medical peers, and communities,” said Ramberg.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. We are extremely fortunate to have Andrea on our team to support our customer network of 400 U.S. sleep clinics and counting. And for those interested in learning more about sleep navigation, check out these other pieces now:

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