Devices for Doctors: Ritalin Prescription Machine?

November 11, 2011, By George Lang

OK… so, despite the fact that I’m in the middle of my doctoral program, I can’t yet be labeled with anything more than the “Hey, you… Almost a Doctor” Bill Cosby tag; so I’m going to let you, the readers, decide the value of this unusual device for yourselves. I will try to stay away from my usual sarcastic self (very difficult indeed) and just present the facts.

This thing is known as the Quotient ADHD System. It is designed, manufactured, and distributed by BioBehavioral Diagnostics (a.k.a., BioBDx) with headquarters in Westford, MA. The device looks a little like an office cubicle on wheels (there is a new portable model available as well). The patient sits in front of the computer and performs a test that lasts approximately twenty minutes. Sensors track patient movement during the test and the system analyzes ability to focus on various tasks.

The BioBDx "Portable" Quotient ADHD System

The patient’s ability to concentrate on changing visual stimuli is apparently indicative of the patient’s level of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The test results are being depicted as a “support” system for the doctor’s ultimate diagnosis. In other words, some doctors are saying the test results would only back up their final prescribed treatment, not serve as their primary reason for the diagnosis.

The test will cost the patient (i.e., insurance company) around $150 to $200. Approximately $55 of each test goes to BioBDx and the balance to the administering doctor. The full system will cost the doctor a hefty $19,500 (Corcoran, NY Times, 2010).

Doctor or no, I would have to be skeptical if it were my child being subjected to an electronic test that had the power to help prescribe a drug like Ritalin for extended periods. That said, virtually every valuable medical test we have these days requires some level of faith from both the doctor and the patient. The Quotient ADHD System is just one in a long line of potential saviors, from digital thermometers to CAT Scans. Let us know what you think below, will you?

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