Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Asam Criteria Becomes Electronic Tool

Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Asam Criteria Becomes Electronic Tool

Article excerpt

Providers that have long relied on the book text for the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) Criteria will be able to make a digital leap starting this year. In January, ASAM launched its new decision-tool software for treatment centers and county programs.

And it's not just a electronic version of the book text, but rather, it's an interactive program that intelligently leads counselors and their patients through data inputs to arrive at level of care recommendations.

David R. Gastfriend, MD, chief architect of the software and CEO of the Treatment Research Institute in Philadelphia, says the digital leap is transformative because the criteria itself impacts so many stakeholders. It's used worldwide and is a best-practice protocol in 30 states.

"The software takes the book, which is now 500 pages, and every decision rule in the adult admission criteria and implements those rules using research-quality question items and a precise algebraic equation to calculate the recommended level of care," Gastfriend says.

Behavioral health EHR vendors will offer the tool exclusively, and ASAM has received agreements from 18 companies to host the software so far. Programs can purchase the tool at cost: $65 per intake clinician per month, for unlimited readwrite use. Discounts will be available, based on volume, and Gastfriend says, vendors are also planning spinoffs for new derivative products, such as custom reporting tools.

"The beauty of that is that ASAM is stimulating the whole behavioral healthcare IT industry to better serve the addiction treatment field," he says.

Quantified decisions

Rather than inferring decisions from the criteria text alone, counselors and other clinicians will answer prompts from the software, such as, "How many times has the patient been in treatment previously?" Each response will lead to the next logical prompt.

After the provider completes the structured process, the answers are distilled. At that point, the provider uses his or her own experience and expertise to choose the recommended level of care from the software's results.

Les Washburn, director of recovery programs for Janus of Santa Cruz (Calif.), a multilevel countywide addiction program, says his organization participated in the demonstration project for the ASAM Criteria software.

"It's a good assessment tool for counselors and intake people to get a feel of where the possibilities are for placement of clients, especially in this day and age where there are so many limitations on placement," Washburn says. …

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