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Dome December 2014

Sleep Script

Date: December 5, 2014


Sleep Script
Illustrations - Alexey Pushkin and Daniel Villeneuve / iStock / Thinkstock

Millions of Americans have chronic, undiagnosed and untreated sleep disorders. However, with the current nationwide shortage of sleep medicine specialists, few of these potential patients will get the care they need, even if they’re already seeing other doctors. It’s a problem that Johns Hopkins neurologists and board-certified sleep physicians Charlene Gamaldo and Rachel Salas have long pondered.

“There’s no way to capture all these patients, no way that we can see them all,” Salas says.

But with the proliferation of smart devices, the doctors have hit on a promising solution. With a team of colleagues, they’re developing an app, called My Sleep Script, that can educate other care providers—who didn’t train in sleep medicine yet often see patients with sleep complaints—on how to screen, triage and counsel their patients with the most common sleep disorders.

The app has two parts. The first is an interactive education module to teach doctors, nurses and other members of a patient’s care team the basics about six common sleep disorders in 10- to 15-minute tutorials. After care providers pass a short quiz on each section of this first part, the app unlocks a second part that they can use as a diagnostic checklist to identify patients with symptoms suggestive of a sleep disorder that requires an immediate formal evaluation.

The duo is currently piloting My Sleep Script with Johns Hopkins providers who specialize in caring for patients with HIV, movement disorders, headaches and urological problems. If surveys show that these providers find the app helpful, Salas and Gamaldo plan to expand its availability throughout Johns Hopkins and, ultimately, outside the institution.

—Christen Brownlee

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