Carl Reutersskiöld is CEO Qingbai Technologya technologically advanced leader in ADHD assessment and testing.
With the increased use of telemedicine mental health services and shortages of medications, ADHD has received a lot of attention. Despite the challenges, last year was a year of significant progress for the industry.
As we start the new year, now is a good time to reflect on the industry’s successes and examine how we are using technology to drive ever-improving standards of care for ADHD and help reduce the stigma associated with the disease.
Benefits of Telemedicine
Despite the pandemic’s impact on mental health globally, it has paved the way for telemedicine to become the dominant model of care, especially in mental health services. This reshuffling of the traditional model is now widely accepted by patients and providers. A recent survey showed that 45% of patients prefer to use telemedicine for mental health care.
The changes this technology has brought to mental healthcare can be compared to what fintech has brought to the financial industry. Before the advent of technologies such as mobile banking, most institutions managed risk by operating under the rule that all customers had to be seen “from the roof of a bank building”. Fintech builds larger, data-driven systems to manage risk more effectively, enabling banks to reach more customers — as telehealth allows providers to reach a wider patient population.
Telehealth is an invaluable tool for maintaining patient care and improving access. Several studies have demonstrated the benefits of telemedicine in cognitive-behavioral techniques for PTSD and anxiety. Others showed great patient satisfaction compared with ambulatory care, which had a lower threshold.
Using technology to meet greater needs
While technological advances that improve mental health care delivery are cause for celebration, there is always room for constant adjustment. With the influx of patients seeking mental health care, there is an urgent need for solutions that can deal with these issues at scale.
Scalable, efficient platforms that capture and analyze real-time data can help providers reduce their cost base and better determine patient outcomes. While the vast majority of providers care deeply about individual patient outcomes, failure to collect and analyze aggregated data results in missed opportunities to improve care across the board, both in and out of the clinic.
Several companies are starting to address this gap. For example, the Apple Watch collects a lot of health data, some of which (such as ECG and Afib data) erases the lines between medtech and healthtech. Other products, such as the Oura ring, provide high-quality data on sleep behavior and period tracking.
In the ADHD space, we’re seeing the rise of innovative technologies designed to increase access to care and better track outcomes. From digital therapeutics (DTx) to apps, gamification and smart watches, there are options to help patients of all ages treat and manage their symptoms, which also capture data for use by providers. While many are still in their early stages, the prospects seem promising.
For children, FDA-approved video games can help ADHD improve cognitive behaviors such as quick decision-making, micromanagement, and problem-solving. We’re also seeing an increased adoption of games to make time and task management more fun, two of the areas of greatest distress for ADHD patients. Wearable devices such as smart watches can also be a great resource to assist in these areas. From setting reminders to using habit-tracking apps, consumers can focus on tasks without being distracted by other noises.
However, many new solutions have struggled to prove their clinical value. This is partly due to the way reimbursement systems, provider processes, and health economic models are designed. But it’s also because many have been focused on providing patients with better access and more engaging solutions, without integrating these in an easy way to benefit providers.
From a diagnostic and treatment monitoring perspective, tools such as objective testing are being used in large numbers and with great success—both in brick-and-mortar clinics and via telemedicine. This testing technique provides providers and patients with visual and indisputable data proving or disproving their likelihood of exhibiting ADHD symptoms based on aggregated data. The objective test measures patient outcomes against data from patients in the same age range and gender category but without ADHD. By incorporating this unbiased data into the diagnostic process, we can improve the standard of care for ADHD patients.
Objective tests also monitor treatment effects, providing better measures to determine patient outcomes. Recently, the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) issued a call to action to plan to continue providing ADHD medication via telehealth services after the Covid-19 public health emergency (PHE) is over. Ryan Haight The Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act eases restrictions to allow these drugs to be prescribed without an in-person visit — which has come under scrutiny — but is a valuable tool for those with limited access or resources Nursing measures. Standardized solutions such as objective tests are useful quality control measures to ensure accurate diagnosis and treatment of patients.
As we navigate the U.S. healthcare system, we should consider the data and how those results affect provider reimbursement. What if reimbursement was based on results rather than volume? Using ADHD technology solutions with a data-driven approach, we can reshape care models that better serve providers and patients.
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