Dr. Steve Lamberg offers advice on ways to brainstorm with colleagues to get new ideas and options for treatment for your patients with sleep-breathing disorders.
by Steve Lamberg, DDS, D.ABDSM
Would you go to a party that opens doors for your practice? We all know the importance of working together with all the specialties in the medical field. If the patient has a nasal obstruction, they are referred to the otolaryngologist. If they have some indication of compromised lung function, it’s an easy referral to the pulmonologist. It’s off to the cardiologist if the patient’s blood pressure is high despite using multiple medications to control it. There are over 100 conditions that we can pick up during our airway evaluation which require a referral to a dental or medical colleague. Maybe the patient needs to be expanded or they have a tongue tie or large tori pushing their tongue into the airway, or their TMJs are on fire. Maybe they failed a trial of CPAP and/or they can’t wear an oral appliance. I could go on, but there’s nothing new here, right?
The real question is, how does one navigate this seemingly unbreachable hierarchy of health care providers? Mailing out referral cards or stopping by offices never achieved the desired results.
So…in 2017 I decided to throw a big meeting to attract many of the “players” we need to connect with. A big “geographically relevant” airway party seemed to be the answer. We decided to invite a well-known keynote speaker to help seduce the many professionals out of their silos. A little food and drink and a national speaker helped to melt the ice here on Long Island. The Pediatric and Adult Airway Network of New York launched, and we called it “PAANNY”.
After 5 years of this “regional style” meeting I can tell you that I highly recommend it. Last year we had 175 attendees and featured James Nestor, author of Breath, as the keynote. This year we have scheduled Uche Odiotu DMD who is a dentist and wellness coach doing the keynote after a morning of MDs giving 10 min Ted Talks in most of the specialties of medicine. This is a how to get everyone into a room together.
I promise you it will be a fun filled journey and you’ll get to meet many people.
I’ve heard of offices having a series of small dinner parties with one person from each specialty and that just seemed to exclude more people that it included. On the other hand, large national organizations “set the table” with a wide variety of health care specialists which is excellent for learning about connecting the dots but when the rubber hits the road they tend to fail miserably at providing a local network of people to work with. We have all heard the clarion call for collaboration so many times I’m sure it has become just as annoying as a honking car alarm horn. What is the action that fosters an environment where the connections between specialties can take root?
I recommend that you make a local event like PAANNY in your own hood and invite everyone. On Long Island we have over 400 ENTs and although only a handful attend the yearly event, they are all invited.
I’m happy to help and give suggestions if you decide this path is for you. The first step is to form a board to brainstorm – a few creative minds are always better than one. Discuss a name for your group and possible speakers. Divvy up responsibilities so everyone feels important, and you don’t end up doing everything. Decide on a few catchy marketing phrases, create a flyer, and possibly a website. Having a few sponsors on board will help prime the pump, allow you to hire a professional if you need one, and so you’ll be able to advertise. Don’t overlook practice resources – it’s amazing how many ‘graphic artists’ there are lurking in some team member’s family!
I promise you it will be a fun filled journey and you’ll get to meet many people that you never would have had the opportunity to connect with. If you want to see how this works join us on May 5th, 2023, on Long Island. Registration information is available at PAANNY.org. I encourage you to offer discounts if offices come with their entire staff. An orthodontic office from the east end of Long Island rented a bus and they brought 15 people! After the event over 60 people hung out in the bar and many friendships were spawned. Once a year is adequate to start this community of like-minded airway advocates, or as we like to call ourselves, Pulmonauts.
Think this sounds like you can’t do it? Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” I’ve done it, so it’s not impossible for you, either. All you really need to do is “copy and paste”.
Dr. Lamberg notes that obtaining the appropriate information can help you brainstorm with colleagues when you get together. In navigating the broad spectrum of clinical and pathophysiological features of any sleep-breathing patient’s needs, it is important to look at more than just AHI. Read “Transcending AHI” here: https://dentalsleeppractice.com/transcending-ahi/.