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Interview with Dr. Maria Angelica Bazurto Zapata, President of the Colombian Association of Sleep Medicine

March 7, 2023

Dr. Bazurto, could you tell us a bit about your professional and academic background?

Well, I am a medical doctor from El Bosque University; I also studied Internal Medicine and Pulmonology at El Bosque University. Shortly after graduating, I started working here at the Colombian Pulmonology Foundation. Currently, I am the president of the Colombian Sleep Medicine Association.

How has your experience been as president of the Colombian Sleep Medicine Association? What are the main challenges?

Being the president of a scientific association is truly an opportunity. It has been difficult because we do these tasks in our spare time and with the amount of work we have, it has not been easy. However, it has been a very enriching experience. We have done important work in the regions, such as medical education and raising awareness among primary care physicians about the importance of diagnosing some sleep disorders, especially obstructive sleep apnea. So it has been a challenge, but very enriching.

How has your experience been as director of the sleep laboratory service at the Colombian Pulmonology Foundation?

Working at the Pulmonology Foundation is a very important experience. Being the head of the service has involved some challenging aspects of growth, but also the need to maintain quality despite that growth. On the other hand, being here has allowed me to do research, which is something that I am passionate about, and we already have several published Works, as well as allowing me to teach. Residents from various specialties, especially pulmonology, rotate through the sleep laboratory here, and we have also had the opportunity to train specialists from Colombia and some Latin American countries. This teaching experience is very important for the Pulmonology Foundation, it is part of its mission, and it is something that personally fulfills me.

Neurovirtual had the honor of working with you during the Latin American Symposium on Sleep Medicine, in which you shared an important lecture on home sleep testing. What are the greatest advantages and precautions when performing home polysomnography exams?

Home polysomnography allows the patient to sleep in their environment, which is very important since some patients prefer it and may sleep better. Of course, there are difficulties, including signal loss during the study, but the number of studies that need to be repeated due to signal loss is not that high. It is a challenge that is easily overcome. It also allows more efficiency in the sleep laboratory without needing a bedroom, making for a more timely study with less of a patient waiting list.

Another topic you addressed was the indication of oxygen in polysomnography. What aspects should the physician pay attention to when making this indication?

The indication of oxygen during a polysomnography study can be for patients with chronic lung diseases who already have a baseline desaturation if we need to see how oxygen behaves during sleep. Particularly at high altitudes, we use oxygen a lot to treat some central apneas. So I think these two would be the most important indications in adults. In children, when there are central apneas, for example, in premature infants, that indication in the sleep study is also very important.

To what extent does uncertain or absent medical indication, in addition to economic factors, impact the continuity of treatment for patients with OSA in Latin America?

 Well, in Latin America, Colombia is particularly privileged because the healthcare service covers the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea with positive pressure devices. This does not happen in other Latin American countries, and patients have to cover this treatment with their own money, which impacts access to treatment. We did a study in which the Neumológica Foundation participated, a Latin American multicenter study, and what we found was that more than half of the patients who indicated CPAP could not start the treatment. The main cause was surprising, as you mention, namely a lack of precise indication by the physician. So I think this shows, in part, a lack of training in sleep disorders for the medical community.

Doctor, do you believe that adequate training in conducting polysomnography exams for adults and children is one of the challenges in Latin America?

Yes, I believe that training not only in polysomnography but in all aspects of sleep medicine is a weakness in Latin America. Sleep is not taught in other healthcare specialties or professions, and there is a great need for training throughout Latin America.

How has your experience been with the Neurovirtual brand?

We have recently acquired Neurovirtual equipment, and the experience has been good. We have received a lot of support from the company with the issues we have had, but as with everything, we have been learning from the equipment and adapting to the new technology.

Doctor, how do you evaluate the technical support at Neurovirtual?

I believe that Neurovirtual’s technical support is one of its great strengths. It is excellent. We always have access 24/7 and have support not only from the medical side but also from the technical side. We always have access to technical support at night.

What advantages or software features would you highlight as the most important?

I think the software is very user-friendly and customizable, which is an advantage for me. I believe that there are, of course, things that need improvement, but I would also highlight that the technical team takes into account the suggestions of the doctors and technicians and tries to implement or include the changes we suggest.

Would you recommend the brand to other doctors?

Yes, I would recommend it. I think the software is very user-friendly, as I mentioned before, and they have very versatile equipment that can be used at home and in the laboratory.

What Neurovirtual equipment models do you currently have?

We have five BWMini and two BWIII.

How was the experience of transitioning from your old equipment to Neurovirtual?

Like any transition, it had its obstacles, but we have overcome them all with the help of technical support and the company that has always been there for us. The technicians and doctors have implemented all the changes, and I think we are doing very well.

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