New Diagnostic Tool Pairs Labs with Psych Assessments


Synergy Labs has just released new diagnostic software that helps physicians efficiently assess a patient's status in relation to psychological disorders, substance abuse risk, and pain levels. This digital tool, called Clarity, pools results from patient self-assessment tests and lab tests into a single screen to allow physicians an overall view for better evaluating diagnostic and treatment avenues.

"Physicians are seeing more patients, and now there are more data points than ever, so it's difficult for them to have time to look in all the different places to assess the patient. We want to give them one place to go," says Brandon Biles with Synergy Labs.

Using the Clarity system, patients answer questions from accredited assessments backed by medical studies. "90 percent of these are in public domain," Biles says. "The difference is having them all on one electronic database so physicians can use what the patient tells them in one screen."

The tests run from just a few questions up to 20, and cover areas such as risk of substance abuse, suicide, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, along with pain level assessments.

The physician determines which battery of tests to offer the patient, which then appear on the iPad provided by Clarity. "We offer 15 tests right now -- all the gold-standard ones most prescribed by physicians -- and we made them available electronically to choose from because everyone practices medicine differently," Biles says.

"The tests are all very intuitive," he says. The format is yes/no or a sliding scale option. "So they're a one-click answer. These are made so a 16-year-old or an 80-year-old can take them." Later this year, Clarity plans to release assessments for adolescents on depression, substance abuse, and ADHD.

Once the patient finishes the tests, the program shuts down. The results are pushed into a secure database online that generates scores and assigns the patient a risk category of high, medium, or low. "The assessment creates the score, not Clarity," Biles says.

The results can integrate directly into any of four major EMRs. "So gone are the days of having to scan and drag and drop," Biles says. "We're working on integrating with other EMRs every day."

Launched in May, Clarity was in 30 practices throughout the Southeast within four weeks. The target market is internal medicine, family practice, women's health, and pain specialists. "This tool touches a broad spectrum of the healthcare field," Biles says.

McCain Ashurst, MD, an ob/gyn with Physicians for Women in Montgomery, began using Clarity to test for post-partem depression when it first released. "Patients love it so far," he says. He tests an average of 20 patients a week.

"Before Clarity, I relied on me asking how they felt," Ashurst says. "It wasn't very clinical, and patients can be afraid to answer that question outright, so by having the proper tool, I'm seeing a lot more diagnoses."

His patients take the five-minute test while waiting to get vital signs. "So it has not impeded our office efficiency and it's easy for them to use by using the iPad," Ashurst says.

The results get printed off the database and scanned as a PDF file into his EMR. "It's in the chart by the time I get to it," Ashurst says. "Along with the risk assessment, the report even highlights the answers that cause the score to go up. It cues you in to what you need to talk to them more about."

The day before, he diagnosed three patients in a row with post-partem depression. "These women would have kept it in and gone home and suffered," he says. "We would have never known. That's why I'm a proponent. It helps me do a better job."

Though at least one other similar digital tool exists, Clarity offers a unique option. "The differentiating factor is that we also own a lab, so the results from any of the hematology -- clinical or toxicology or genetics -- can also be bundled and funneled through Clarity," Biles says.

Ashurst says even without reimbursements, the new diagnostic tool could be worth it. "For some women, we're their only doctors. And the cost of going undiagnosed for depression is a lot more than the cost of the screening," he says, mentioning worsening comorbidity with other medical issues, or the possibility of harming themselves or their child. "Us not doing a proper job of screening could lead to higher costs -- social, financial or health costs for the patient."

Brandon Biles

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Recipeideas, Brandon Biles, Clarity, Clarity diagnostic tool, depression assessment, digital risk assessments, Jane Ehrhardt, McCain Ashurst, MD, Physicians for Women, post-partem depression, psychological assessments, PTSD assessment, Synergy Labs

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