Despite technology advancements across healthcare, one medical condition lagging in widespread adoption and development of better care infrastructure is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Inefficiencies and a lack of access to objective ADHD testing led to long delays in diagnosis and treatment for children and adults.
Without increased access to proper resources, patients are left searching for a way to incorporate technology into their ADHD journey by turning to unregulated sources and social media for support. Unfortunately, many are quickly discovering the gaps in available information and the disconnect between the point of identifying symptoms, getting diagnosed and finding the proper treatment and provider. The trend of “social media diagnosis” also concerns physicians who may see the attempts to get treatment as simply a ploy to access stimulants. These physicians desperately want to help patients but need reliable and valid data to support their medication decisions.
ADHD and the Pandemic
As the pandemic brought chaos to schedules and routines, there has been an increase in ADHD testing requests among adults and children. This is because those with ADHD, diagnosed or not, often rely on routines, schedules, and other habit-based organizational skills to help them cope with their symptoms. With the disruption to these systems, many are discovering they are working three to four times harder than their non-ADHD peers and realize there may be a problem.
It’s only when pushed to their limits that they can clearly see the amount of effort required to maintain functionality.
ADHD is multidimensional and complex. It’s challenging to diagnose because it co-occurs with other mental health disorders that can complicate symptoms. With the rise of information sharing via social media platforms, these symptoms became more self-recognizable among patients as people began opening up about their struggles online, searching for answers and a community that could help. Suddenly, without their typical routines, they struggled with focus, time management, and even, in some cases, following directions and handling their emotions during an already difficult time.
Though these conversations removed some of the stigmas associated with the disorder and created an online space for relevant information, they are adding strain on a healthcare system that has been heavily reliant on inefficient and subjective forms of diagnosis and evaluation.
What is the solution?
New Technology Bridges the Gap
The challenges of diagnosing ADHD highlight the need for the ADHD community to look at validated tools that can help clinicians objectively sort through symptomology and make streamlined, efficient decisions around diagnosis and treatment. With more widespread support and adoption of such technologies, clinicians can feel more confident in their diagnosis, and the healthcare system can scale provider capacity through innovation.
One example of a company dedicated to serving the needs of the ADHD community is Qbtech. Qbtech developed and validated for decades, what I believe to be the world’s best hope to address the needs of patients and providers. Their cutting-edge objective tests provide clinicians with specific data on users’ level of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention in 20-minutes. The test is administered in-clinic (QbTest) or via telehealth (QbCheck) and real-time results show patients a visual report of how their results compare to others of the same age and birth gender in a comparative group.
This form of technology makes ADHD testing more accessible in several ways. Time constraints become less of an issue, as patients who might not have time in their schedules to travel for in-person testing can test at home, making the testing process feel more feasible.
Telehealth solutions for ADHD testing have become an invaluable resource for patients and practitioners alike. Since the pandemic, the increase in telehealth services has dramatically benefited adults seeking mental health services. With the accessibility, reliability, and validity that objective testing provides today, I don’t anticipate using only subjective measures or IQ tests with limited validity in diagnosing ADHD again.
Embracing ADHD Technology
Ultimately, as Americans continue embracing newer healthcare technologies, those focusing on objective data and expanding patients’ access to specialized services should be top-of-mind. The ease-of-access, quick timeframe, and objective, real-time results help decrease the number of undiagnosed Americans and provide an innovative tool for practitioners to use in treatment analysis. Those who think they may have ADHD – or even who feel that they need help finding the right medication balance – should look into objective testing options and ask their practitioners for support in integrating these methods into their diagnosis and treatment.
The author, Aaron Dodini, MS, MA, PhD, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Clinical Psychologist, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) specialist. As the founder of Dodini Behavioral Health in Arlington, Virginia, he and his colleagues seek to help children, couples, families, and adults to live bigger, richer, fuller lives.