TORONTO – Most doctors recognize the symptoms instantly: hand tremors, slurred speech, impaired posture and balance. What they don’t always associate with people suffering from Parkinson’s disease are hallucinations and delusions. Now Pointclickcare Inc. has launched a web-based, software screening tool to make sure clinicians recognize Parkinson’s disease psychosis when they see it.

“Parkinson’s psychosis is often underdiagnosed or not treated by health care providers as quickly as they could,” Pointclickcare’s clinical product strategist Bill Stuart told BioWorld. “This tool allows our skilled nursing facility customers to screen patients, ask the right questions and then communicate that information to the care team. We’re really excited by it.”

Talking with data

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation more than 10 million people worldwide live with Parkinson’s disease. More than half of these will develop symptoms of Parkinson’s psychosis over the course of their disease, seeing, hearing or sensing things that aren’t really there or even experiencing paranoid delusions. Hallucinations and delusions often occur at night when doctors aren’t immediately available.

The new screening tool is programmed for use by nursing staff to ask patients structured questions linked to hallucinations and delusions. Once complete, the nurse can bring this to the attention of the resident or on call specialist for a thorough consult. Stuart calls it “talking with data” as opposed to a purely subjective consult.

“That means going through those structured questions, identifying hallucinations and delusions but even more specifically what type of hallucinations and delusions. This provides the clinician with greater insight into how that patient is diagnosed and treated.”

The screening tool is part of Nursing Advantage, a clinical content platform to help increase assessment quality and incorporate evidence-based clinical suggestions, minimizing the risk of hospital readmission. The screening tool will know if the patient has already been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and then communicate symptomology to the clinician for diagnosis.

“It is completely embedded within the existing technology, that is, within the natural clinical workflows of our customers,” Stuart noted. “It’s when you start to work outside those workflows that things become more complicated and a challenge for the clinician.”

Not only is Parkinson’s psychosis better diagnosed using this tool, said Stuart, it prevents misdiagnosis of the ailment and subsequent prescription of antipsychotic medication rather than treatment of other underlying issues.

Opting in

The new screening tool has been warmly received by Mississauga, Ontario-based Pointclickcare’s developmental partner, the Alexandria, Va.-based American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP) representing pharmacists, health care professionals, and students with a particular focus on older patients. “ASCP is interested not just in the data behind the prevalence of Parkinson’s disease but how the treatment of Parkinson’s disease psychosis can actually improve patients’ lives,” said Stuart.

Pointclickcare is recognized by Forbes as one of the Top 100 Private Cloud Companies, boasting more than 21,000 customers at skilled nursing facilities, senior living communities and home health agencies. Mum on how much has been spent developing the new tool, Stuart was more forthcoming about its cost to customers.

“Our goal is to deliver baseline standard clinical content to our customers as part of what they are already paying for when using the platform.” Customers access the new screening tool by opting into a component of Nursing Advantage platform, Stuart noted. “It’s really an enhanced user interface for assessments, the ability to drive additional logic, rules and integrate with other clinical workflows.”

The new screening tool should also help deliver a more standardized care process for Parkinson’s disease psychosis, Stuart added, allowing the industry to collect better data that can ultimately lead to better health care outcomes.

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