Blog: 3 Ways Technology Will Improve ADHD Related Care
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition that affects millions of people worldwide. While the prevalence of ADHD has been increasing in recent years, especially in adults, diagnosing the disorder remains challenging for many healthcare providers. Fortunately, advances in technology are making it easier to identify ADHD in patients and providing more effective treatment options. Here, we explore the top 3 ways technology can assist providers in diagnosing ADHD.
Objective Measurement Tools
Currently, healthcare providers rely on subjective reports from patients and parents, behavioral observations, and rating scales to diagnose ADHD. While these methods can provide valuable information, their accuracy is still highly questionable. For instance, a patient might over or under-report their symptoms, and the observer’s biases can influence the rating scales’ results. Furthermore, rating scales alone might not capture the full range of ADHD specific symptoms and comorbidities exacerbating the patients self-reported measures.
However, advances in technology are delivering a new era of objective measurement tools that provide more precise and comprehensive data to diagnose ADHD. For example, recent studies led to the FDA clearance of the first digital therapeutic (DTx) for ADHD, using a video game-like task to improve attention in children and adolescents with ADHD. The test’s results have been shown to be more reliable and objective than most traditional rating scales. Other objective measurement tools include brain imaging techniques like functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) based solutions designed to provide clinicians with a more effective data driven process.
ADHD symptoms can vary significantly, making it challenging for healthcare providers to assess their patients’ conditions. However, with wearable technology, providers can collect continuous data on the patient’s activity levels, heart rate, and sleep patterns, providing insights into their ADHD symptoms.
Currently, several wearable devices are available that can track movement and physical activity, including wrist-worn activity trackers, smartwatches, and pedometers. These devices can also monitor sleep patterns and heart rate variability, which can provide valuable information about ADHD symptoms.
Moreover, advances in wearable technology are enabling providers to monitor more than just physical activity. For instance, researchers are developing smart glasses that can measure pupil dilation, a sign of cognitive load, and attentional focus. This technology could provide real-time feedback on ADHD symptoms, enabling providers to adjust treatment plans accordingly.
One of the main shortcomings of ADHD diagnosis and treatment is access to timely, cost effective care. Many patients and families face barriers such as distance, transportation, and scheduling conflicts that add to the cost and time burden associated with the diagnostic evaluation process. However, telemedicine offers a solution to overcome these barriers by providing virtual consultations, remote monitoring, and online support resources.
Telemedicine allows healthcare providers to assess patients remotely, reducing travel time and costs for patients who live in remote or underserved areas. Furthermore, telemedicine can provide remote monitoring of the initial titration process, long term medication adherence, and symptom management, allowing providers to adjust treatment plans as needed. Finally, telemedicine can provide online education and resources for patients and families, improving their understanding of ADHD and treatment options available to them.
Biomarker Identification of ADHD
Over the past year, we have initiated multi-center clinical studies and IRB approved investigations across the US, in order to examine the prevalence of specific eye movement signatures as biomarkers for ADHD. These studies may demonstrate the clinical utility of assessing eye movements to support the diagnostic workup, may improve the long and frustrating process of drug titration and adherence, or validate the need for non-pharmacologic interventions as a better treatment option.
Over the course of these studies, we have also learned about the concerns of providers. Often parents have an expectation that ADHD medications will cure their child regardless of the diagnostic workup. Like other objective tools, we aim to provide evidence to support and justify the need for these medications so providers can justify prescribing them.
While there is still much to learn about ADHD, we know that technology offers significant potential to improve the diagnosis and treatment of this condition. Objective measurement tools, wearable technology, and telemedicine can provide more precise, comprehensive, and accessible care to patients with ADHD. By leveraging these technologies, healthcare providers can diagnose ADHD more accurately, monitor symptoms more effectively, and provide more personalized treatment plans. Ultimately, this could lead to better outcomes for patients with ADHD and improve their quality of life.