|Respiratory Therapist Adrian Hunter has created this catchy song and video to spread awareness about OSA.|
One of the biggest challenges in healthcare is connecting providers with patients “where they are at,” especially when patients aren’t willing or able to go in to the clinic. Some patients learn more about their health from friends and family than they do from doctors because they feel medical practitioners are out of reach. Others consult “Dr. Google” more often than a real MD to learn about medical problems, which can actually lead to more problems. In both situations, misinformation, dangerous advice and fear can break down a stable patient-doctor relationship, which is critical for good health outcomes. Doctors are, more than ever, tasked with finding innovative ways to engage with their patients so that they can offer them the best care possible. Using creative space in the Age of Media is one such way. The multimedia arts can be a fruitful venue where patients and healthcare professionals can connect: through books, photographs, films, comedy performances, etc. —SHC
We met sleep health professional Adrian Hunter, RT, at a technologist conference in October 2014. Hunter has found a unique way to spread knowledge and awareness about Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) through the multimedia arts: a sleep apnea awareness song, “Heard About Sleep,” which she wrote, performed, produced and which can be seen as a video here on YouTube (and yes! that’s her in the pajamas!).
She couldn’t wait to play the recording from her smartphone during a break between seminars and spoke tirelessly about her dreams to use her musical background shed light on the problems of untreated OSA. We could not help but be inspired by her charm, her talent, her determination and her vision. Since our meeting, Hunter has completed her production package with a video and sought copyright protections. She has approached sleep apnea and respiratory healthcare organizations for their support and has reached out to sleep technology societies to find ways to get more people on board with her novel approach to patient education.
Adrian Hunter is just one person, but her unique effort has reached people worldwide through the powerful medium of music. And while she has produced an entertaining music video–which conveys a “soft” message–she nonetheless clearly grasps the gravity of not treating sleep disordered breathing problems. The information from her video bears this out: she recognizes that OSA is not a minor health problem in the US, but one that demands attention and treatment. The statistics on this chronic sleep disorder support her concerns:
- Twenty-five million Americans suffer from OSA and many remain untreated; that’s roughly 26 percent of the entire population.
- As many as 20 percent of all children under the age of 18 also suffer from OSA.
- Two major longitudinal studies in recent history (Wisconsin cohort and Sleep in America) estimate that up to 80 percent of study participants who had confirmed moderate or severe OSA were still not diagnosed by their physicians despite adequate access to health care.
- Insufficient sleep is considered by the Centers for Disease Control to be a public health epidemic, with OSA contributing a critical burden.
- Untreated OSA adds as much as $3.4 billion to medical costs annually, making it a large-scale problem economically, yet another reason to make it a subject worthy of raising awareness among both physicians and the general public.
Healthcare providers can and have tried sending out the “hard” message for years now, that OSA is real and a huge problem for Americans, but the numbers of undiagnosed and untreated sufferers are on the rise. Maybe the “hard” message is not effective; maybe it will be the “soft” message that people like Adrian Hunter has created that will sink in and inspire awareness and change.
We had an opportunity recently to ask her more about her work to spread awareness about OSA: especially how she was able to combine her skills as both a respiratory therapist and musician.
|Adrian Hunter, RT and recording artist|
SleepyHeadCENTRAL: What is your current job, and how long have you been working in sleep?
Adrian Hunter: I am currently working with DME companies. I’ve been a Respiratory Therapist since 2001. I began working in Sleep in 1999. I have experience working in hospitals, sleep centers, DME companies and I am currently being treated for sleep apnea.
SHC: What inspired you to write and produce this song?
AH: As I continue to work with my patients and doctors and attend sleep-related conferences, I am reminded of the millions of people unaware and untreated for sleep apnea and other sleep conditions. So I thought of the saying, “music makes the world go around.” I love music and I love to sing so I decided to write a song; this way, people can listen and learn whether in their car, home, work, shower… anywhere.
SHC: Describe the process you followed to write the lyrics.
AH: For this particular song: one evening while watching the sports channel with my husband, I began to think about my patients and how they confide in me their concerns about family and friends who refuse to get tested for sleep apnea. I thought about what I’d say to them when setting them up on PAP devices for the first time, or what I’d say when they are noncompliant. How do I help teach people about sleep apnea? I began humming the words “sleep apnea.” I then went into my bedroom, got my pen, paper and tape recorder, sat on the side of my bed, and began writing the lyrics and putting my beats and rhythms together.
I completed my song, “Heard About Sleep” aka “Sleep Apnea Awareness Song” within two hours.
SHC: What was the performing and producing experience like?
AH: The recording session was easy for me because I diligently practiced daily, practicing sounds with my voice and beats on the keyboard before I entered the studio. I couldn’t get this song out of my mind. I knew what I was looking for. I wanted a catchy beat to help draw attention to the song. The recording process went very quickly, less than a couple of hours.
SHC: How do you hope this song will raise awareness?
AH: My hope for this song is that it will propel me into a worldwide recognition as a spokesperson and advocate for sleep apnea and other related conditions and to help improve sleep hygiene, self confidence, job performance, relationships etc.
SHC: Have you ever performed, produced or recorded other original music?
AH: I have been performing as long as I can remember. My father was a lead singer and choir director. He inspired and molded me to be the singer I am today. This is my first recording of any of my original music.
SHC: What is your challenge, now that you have a song recorded and ready to share with the world?
AH: Now that I have completed ”Heard About Sleep,” my focus is to have the opportunity to continue advocating and increasing the awareness of getting tested for sleep apnea and to also continue supporting people who are receiving sleep apnea treatment.
SHC: What do you hope will happen with your song?
AH: I hope my song will be a platform to help launch me as a spokesperson for sleep apnea and any other conditions I can be supportive of.
SHC: Would you be inspired to write other sleep health-related songs?
AH: Yes, I am inspired and encouraged to write other sleep health-related songs.
SHC: What would you say to someone who works in sleep health who is also a creative or performance artist?
AH: I encourage everyone to follow their dreams and be creative. It’s not always an easy process, but it’s worth the challenge. It is important to keep moving forward, putting one foot in front of the other, until you reach your goal.