The journey of Sleep Review magazine’s current editor in chief, and how she hopes to continue providing sleep professionals with the news that matters
In the February edition of our sleep story series, we’re fortunate to share the story of an outstanding contributor to the sleep world, and one that usually is on the other end of this type of thing: Sree Roy. Currently serving as the Chief Editor for our industry’s premier and pioneering media publication, Sleep Review magazine, Roy is a pillar of information and insight for our entire industry. It was our pleasure to pick her brain, and really dive into where the sleep world is headed in the next decade, as well as how she fell into sleep in the first place. With that in mind, let’s take a dive into our February sleep story.
Who is Sree Roy, Sleep Review’s Chief Editor?
For Sree Roy, her journey in sleep began with an arduous interview process with Sleep Review. The possible hang-up? Her lack of experience in the medical field and specifically in sleep. And in 2013, Sleep Review took a chance on her, and boy are we all lucky they did. While the long-time journalist wasn’t a sleep guru, she had the drive to become the industry’s leading expert.
To get up to speed on the field of sleep, Roy attended trade shows, dove into textbooks and other non-fiction sleep content, and met with her editorial advisory board to learn about the nuances of sleep. Within a few months, she was making a true stamp on Sleep Review magazine’s content and audience.
A Day in the Life at Sleep Review
Navigating the nine annual print issues and the daily content for the website leads to a hectic day-to-day schedule for Roy. She might be breaking news fresh from the FDA, interviewing industry minds, working on print layout with her designers, discussing new digital elements with the web team, or simply reviewing pitches from sleep trade public relations professionals. However, her main goal is to keep up with the news that matters most to sleep professionals.
“I am looking at what’s new that our audience needs to know about, and I try to always be first,” she said with a slight chuckle. “If there’s a new FDA clearance, I try to get that up right away. I really like us to be first, and that helps us get a lot of exclusive stories.”
Of the topics that tend to receive the most attention from the Sleep Review audience, the number one topic is obstructive sleep apnea, especially if the content or pitch highlights a solution-driven product.
“The biggest thing I prioritize is anything product or service related for the professional, because that’s what our audience is most interested in,” said Roy. Regarding specific sleep disorders, “anything related to sleep apnea is what I prioritize most, and insomnia is probably the second,” she added.
According to Roy, these five sleep disorders are the most requested topics for coverage in Sleep Review magazine and in their digital stories. The specific areas of focus stem from reader-surveys and from website metrics, said Roy, adding that she receives more PR pitches than she could ever support. However, if a story is fresh and ready to be told, she’s all ears.
Trends to Continue in 2021
Roy highlighted a number of major trends we can anticipate to continue to grow in 2021 and beyond. The biggest trends she anticipates continuing to gain momentum include the rise of home sleep apnea testing and the value of telehealth in the sleep care model.
At-Home Tests Provide Additional Diagnostic Options
“It seems like changes that were already on the way were definitely accelerated. Changes that maybe would have taken 3 years kind of happened within 3 months,” said Roy on the impact COVID had on the home sleep apnea testing market. “With sleep labs closed, the patients really can’t wait. It’s not necessarily safe for them if they have a sleep disorder that goes untreated, so I think folks [in the industry] were looking at ways to get them diagnosed.”
While she mentioned that the literature on the topic isn’t conclusively in line with HSATs becoming the new norm, the evolution of sleep testing is apparent. PSGs will always be a crucial part of the sleep field, HSATs are staking more of a claim on the market, especially with the rise of disposables. In fact, if testing volumes had never been interrupted, one could hypothesize that HSAT devices may still be primarily reusables.
Roy highlighted a recent Sleep Review article that touches on the new fully disposable HSAT options, including the WatchPAT One from Itamar. While these devices present some extreme advantages when it comes to health and safety during the pandemic, there are also some concerns. In the piece, Sleep Review highlights cost, waste, and price points as key challenges for disposables to overcome.
For many groups, HSATs provide needed opportunity, “especially for folks with kids who simply can’t spend the night elsewhere,” Roy highlighted. “Home tests are a good option for people to have.” Our team agrees with the Sleep Review editor’s line of thinking on this one: options are important.
Telehealth continues to support patient / physician connections
Like HSATs, telehealth received a bit of a COVID-boost, as insurance companies and Medicare alike began to accept telehealth appointments and reimbursed for those meetings. However, unlike HSATs, Roy isn’t as bullish on telehealth’s future.
“It remains to be seen how much telehealth will stick around, but it seems like it’s good for the maintenance appointments,” said Roy. She highlighted recurring CPAP download check-ins and physician-to-patient meetings as ways telehealth can better support the patient care journey. With that in mind, she’s not convinced we’ve done enough for our patients.
How PCPs can Support Sleep Professionals
For Sree Roy, watching from behind the industry’s printing press has given her a unique view into the patient experience. She’s constantly reviewing the products and solutions that are designed to improve sleep health and quality for consumers, but wonders if we’re doing enough. In an article she included in her highlight reel, “Front-loaded to a Fault?,” Roy dives into the front-loaded nature of sleep care and sleep management.
“Patients can fall through the cracks after 3 months because that first 90 days is for reimbursement,” said Roy. “I think telehealth certainly is easier for patients and doctors to connect a little easier.” Click the graphic below to dive into that piece and see what we can do beyond the initial 90 days to take better care of patients long term.
It seems like there are a lot of folks in sleep medicine who are already trying to find ways to improve the patient management process. As a front-loaded field, many sleep professionals are focused on improving the current trends, helping identify and diagnose patients with OSA and other sleep disorders. However, because the funding for care is stagnated after 90 days, it makes it hard for organizations to remain focused on keeping patients motivated and compliant with their CPAP treatments.
“I really want to see us find ways to do things more seamlessly. There’s a lot of talk about how the industry loses people in the cracks when there’s too much of a gap between when they find out they might have sleep apnea, to when they get their sleep test to when they finally get their equipment,” highlighted Roy. This isn’t fresh, as she wrote a popular editor’s letter about how CVS is trying to streamline OSA diagnosis through management about a year ago, but it is still very important today. Together, we can address this pressing concern, and improve the lives of more people with undiagnosed sleep disorders.
What else is Hot in Sleep Medicine?
The AASM did just have success getting a congressional sleep caucus established. A top order of business for the caucus is eliminating the Daylight Savings Time (DST) switch, a priority Roy highlighted in our conversation.
“I am fully in favor of getting rid of Daylight Savings Time,” said Roy. “A lot of studies are showing that it is more harmful than beneficial,” she added, noting that it is especially difficult for children and dogs to understand, something that affects her on a more personal level, “With a dog and young child, when the time changes, it’s a total disaster for me,” she said with a laugh.
Beyond the DST switch, Sree Roy echoed the voices of many others in sleep, that the general public awareness of sleep needs to continue to be prioritized by sleep professionals. Marketing efforts and local educational advertising can play major roles in expanding better sleep health. According to Roy, people can often be their own biggest hurdle.
“I think the biggest challenge is trying to encourage people who potentially have sleep disorders to actually see a physician,” said Roy. “I feel like there’s a lot of at-home treatments, and while I think it’s fine to try some solutions, in a lot of cases, people would get better faster if they simply talked with a sleep physician.”
Want more from Sleep Review?
With a half decade plus covering the field of sleep medicine, Roy has no shortage of impactful interviews and content, and it would be very remiss if we failed to highlight a few strong articles. One piece Roy highlighted discusses the mounting evidence linking atrial fibrillation and comorbid sleep apnea. At that time, the relationship between sleep and heart health was just becoming top of mind. For the piece, Roy interviewed cardiologists and sought to identify the steps we can take to systematically screen patients for OSA on a more efficient basis. The piece was a hit in 2017, and continues to be relevant to this day. You can dive into that piece by clicking the graphic below.
Another of her favorite interviews featured the renowned sleep specialist, Barry Krakow. The Q&A style piece, “A Missing Link: Dr. Barry Krakow’s Research on Insomnia and SDB,” highlights the overlaps between sleep disordered breathing and insomnia. And more recently, Roy was lucky enough to score an interview with James Nestor, the author of “Breath,” who provided a down-to-earth “celebrity” conversation. In Roy’s piece, the pair jump into the “lost art of using inhalations and exhalations to improve health.”
As major books like Breath and Rafael Pelayo’s How We Sleep add to the public conversation, Roy is optimistic about the momentum sleep health has within the general consumer narrative. “I’m excited for the pop-culture interest in sleep. I can no longer read a consumer magazine, without having to bookmark something for work,” she said with a laugh.
We’re hoping her optimism is indeed accurate, as our mission is to bring sleep health to the vast untreated and underserved communities in the U.S., and eventually around the world. Without sleep health awareness – and without leaders like Sree Roy and Sleep Review magazine – that challenge is far greater. So with a full heart, thank you Sree, please keep providing our industry with a strong voice for sleep health progress.