PITTSBURGH — A new mobile application called Connect2Care offers screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment services to help U.S. health care providers identify and treat individuals who may be at risk for substance use and mental health disorders.
The app, which is aimed at health care providers, pharmacists and others who work with patients at risk of substance use disorder, was developed by the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy’s Program Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) through a five-year partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) in response to the escalating opioid epidemic.
“The goal of this app is to build a bridge between different services and help address substance use and mental health disorders, which often occur concurrently,” said Abby Cotton, deputy director of Innovative Health Services Initiatives at PERU. “We hope that this tool sparks conversations between patients and providers and leads to early identification of patients in need so that they can be connected with appropriate care.”
Many health care professionals know to screen patients for substance use disorder, but may be less familiar with connecting patients to recovery services. The Connect2Care app leads a provider or patient through a questionnaire informed by evidence-based clinical screens for alcohol and substance use disorders. Screening can be completed in both English and Spanish, and there are options for audio and larger text size. On the basis of screening results, the app may recommend brief interventions and referral resources, which are customizable to location or setting to include local treatment resources.
The app also houses aggregated screening and outcome information in the data dashboard to help providers estimate the number of patients served by the app and the volume of substance use disorder or mental health services needed.
“Like other diseases, such as heart disease, the disease of addiction often worsens over time, and the sooner that a substance use disorder is identified and treated, the more favorable the outcome for the individual impacted,” said DDAP Secretary Jen Smith. “We look forward to the positive impact that the Connect2Care app will have on making screening, early intervention and referral to services easier for providers and patients.”
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CAPTION: The Connect2Care app is available in the Apple Store and Google Play.