US-based non-profit organisation Center on Addiction has partnered with Northwell Health to launch an app to screen for substance use disorders such as opioid dependence and addiction.

Intended for physicians and other professionals, the SBIRT for Health Professionals app is designed for use in healthcare setting and available for tablets.

The app provides a set of standard, streamlined questions that can be used with patients to help detect potentially problematic drug or alcohol use patterns.

In case of a moderate-to-high level of risk, the app offers guidance for healthcare professionals to discuss with their patients about changing their lifestyles and setting new goals.

When appropriate, the app additionally helps the provider speak about referrals to substance use disorder treatment.

“Our app helps to break down some of the barriers to adoption by providing a simple tool that is easy for clinical team members to use.”

According to the centre, Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is an evidence-based approach that can be used to effectively tackle risky substance use in patients.

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Center on Addiction health services research associate director Megan O’Grady said: “However, many providers are unfamiliar with the approach or have faced difficulty in adopting it within their own practices – and the app can help with that.

“A discussion with a patient can prevent substance misuse from escalating to addiction. Wider use of SBIRT will save lives.

“Our app helps to break down some of the barriers to adoption by providing a simple tool that is easy for clinical team members to use.”

SBIRT health coaches at Northwell Health tested the iOS version of the tablet app. Models for Android and laptops are set to be developed in the future.