Coming Soon: The ASAM Criteria Software

The ASAM criteria has been helping health care professionals make decisions about the care of patients with addictive disorders for more than 20 years. The forthcoming edition, The ASAM Criteria, has more than 300 pages and covers decision points related to admission, level of care, continued stay, and discharge. Now for the first time, ASAM will be releasing a software application-focused version of the ASAM criteria that will provide a standardized way for treatment assessment.

The development of the software is being led by David Gastfriend, MD, Newton, Mass., who is an addiction psychiatrist. Dr. Gastfriend will present the new software at Workshop 5, “The Open Source ASAM Criteria Software,” three times today, at 10 am, 2 pm, and 4:30 pm in Williford B on the third floor of the Hilton Chicago.

About 6 million patients enter more than 13,000 U.S. addiction treatment programs each year, but many are placed into programs that are not appropriate for their needs. Studies have found that patients referred to a lower level of care than recommended for alcohol dependence drank twice as often after treatment as those who were properly matched, and they used nearly twice as many hospital bed-days per year, he said.

The ASAM Criteria Software, which has been in development for more than a decade, prompts interviewers to ask patients a series of questions and enter data into the program. It also provides interpretation and options while guiding the interviewer through the level of care placement process. By using the software and The ASAM Criteria book together, addiction medicine specialists can really understand how to implement the criteria fully.

Dr. Gastfriend said the software uses a quantitative algebraic algorithm to produce reliable recommendations about a patient’s care needs. The ASAM Criteria book is a foundational guide to implementing this software

“The computer decides how to branch into different areas, and then the depth of each area, to explore a patient’s needs with a high degree of specificity,” he said of the software, which has been tested for three years in Norway. “There are roughly 6,000 decision points. No two patients will experience the same interview.”

The hands-on, interactive workshops will allow physicians to experience the software by watching videos of patient interviews, assessing those patients, and entering data into the program.

“This is a chance to shop the software and give feedback,” Dr. Gastfriend said.

And that feedback is needed, he said. Attendees will be asked to provide their opinions on the software, including its usefulness, how it could be improved, and what needs to be developed next.

“This is just the beginning,” Dr. Gastfriend said.

The session also will provide details on ASAM’s plans for disseminating the software, training, and certifying programs. The software is expected to become the standard of care for patients in need of addiction treatment evaluation, placement, and re-evaluation. So who should attend the session?

“People who work in systems with the capacity to introduce clinical decision-support software in their daily operations,” Dr. Gastfriend said.