The Path Forward for ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment

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By Carl Reuterskiöld, CEO at Qbtech 

The revelations that a prominent behavioral health start-up allegedly instituted a policy of prescribing controlled substances, such as Adderall, to all patients have rocked the Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) community. One of the company’s former Vice Presidents brought a lawsuit in April alleging unsafe practices that claims they “egregiously put profits and growth before patient safety.” Although these revelations have caused headlines, the failure to properly diagnose and treat ADHD is not new. 

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For decades, ADHD diagnoses have been based largely on subjective evaluations by family members or caregivers, teachers, and medical professionals. Access to high quality care for those suffering from ADHD has been insufficient. For a disorder that came into the national spotlight in the 1990s, it is remarkable that the process of diagnosis and treatment has remained unchanged. Standard evaluations are, on the whole, incomplete, focusing on when, where, and how often symptoms impact a patient, but they fail to gather objective, reproducible, and age/sex comparable data to measure how severe symptoms are to individual patients. Notwithstanding the development and introduction of science and technology that can help remedy these deficiencies in ADHD diagnosis and treatment, the larger ADHD community has not necessarily adopted these new solutions.

The United States, a center for innovation, is at risk of falling behind global standards of care. Already lagging behind England, which has incorporated objective testing into the National Health Service (NHS) standards for youth ADHD assessments.

We must dig deeper. Without objective data, clinicians are flying partially blind. With it they are enabled to make better, more informed decisions, exercise more precision in prescribing treatment, and operate using data-driven insights when monitoring the selected treatment’s effects. To date, over 10,000 clinicians worldwide have adopted this objective technology to document the need for, and the outcome of, clinical decisions and interventions to ensure optimized ADHD diagnosis and treatment.

Data is critical to medical diagnoses and treatment, and ADHD care must be enhanced to prioritize objective data coupled with observation rather than observation alone. Without this change, children and adults with ADHD are destined to suffer the consequences of poor access and variable quality – including poor educational attainment, a greater risk of substance abuse and incarceration, and a fivefold greater risk of suicide. The stakes are high.

The recent revelations focused on one company should not obscure the larger problem in ADHD care: the standard of care must improve and prioritize the patient. We must adopt technologies that use data to enhance diagnosis and treatment. Taken together, technology and human observation can provide a more holistic and accurate standard of care. Through better use of objective data, clinicians can avoid over- and under-diagnosis and patients can be confident that they are receiving optimal evaluation and treatment. The problem we see today, one where profits are valued over patient care, can be at least partially resolved through proven technology promoting better outcomes. 

Clinicians agree. In March of this year, an ADHD Expert Consortium came together to address the need for change in ADHD evaluation and treatment.

Government agencies will investigate the underlying issues that have become global headlines, but the industry has a real opportunity to improve ADHD and other behavioral health outcomes through adopting better technology. I invite all clinical and community stakeholders to work together to transform ADHD care and establish a data-driven approach that satisfies the demand for quality, equitable care for all.

Author’s Bio 

Carl Reuterskiöld is CEO of Qbtech, a digital health company focused on ADHD. Prior to joining Qbtech, Carl held various senior positions within Pfizer and was a member of the Swedish leadership team. Prior to Pfizer, Carl worked for the Boston Consulting Group and received experience from a wide range of B2B and B2C industries and markets.

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