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Polaris awarded $1.1 million NIDA grant to improve patient engagement in treatment for addiction

Langhorne, PA (April 2, 2014) Substance abuse has long been one of the greatest challenges facing health care systems. More patients drop out of treatment than complete it. And those who dropout are at
greater risk of relapsing—caught in a cycle with steep human and monetary costs.

With a $1.1 million, two year grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Polaris Health Directions will launch in April the second phase of a project set to dramatically impact addictions outcomes.

Polaris will implement a cloud-based clinical system designed to predict and improve the likelihood of patient engagement in 12 addictions treatment programs of a large behavioral health system. The evidence-based, patient engagement predictive model is the first ever developed for clinical use.

The Polaris Engagement Enhancement for Chemical Dependency System, EECD for short, is an advanced version of Polaris CD, Polaris’s outcomes management system for substance abuse treatment and a leading example of translating research into practice. It is a data-driven solution to help clinicians develop treatment plans that directly reflect the needs patients have reported, determine whether the current course of treatment is effective and red flag those patients who are likely to dropout or relapse.

EECD extends the innovations of Polaris CD. The predictive model helps clinicians identify early those patients who are unlikely to engage in treatment. Additional enhancements include a motivational, personalized patient feedback report and a clinical report that provides guidance for Motivational Interviewing, a method known to be effective for improving engagement.

“The importance of patient engagement during substance abuse treatment cannot be overstated,” said Grant Grissom, Ph.D., president of Polaris. “Equipping clinicians with a validated tool that allows for earlier identification of at-risk patients and an evidence-based method for motivating them will improve engagement. Better engagement will mean better outcomes, including reduced relapse rates and the human and economic costs associated with it.”

The new components were successfully developed with data from the New Hope Foundation, one of New Jersey’s largest addiction treatment centers. A prototype was field tested at New Hope during phase one.

In phase two, data from about 10,000 patients will be used to study the effectiveness of EECD for improving engagement and lowering the rate of patients re-entering treatment within six months.

“We are very excited to start phase two of the EECD project,” said Tony Comerford, Ph.D., president and CEO of New Hope, and a consultant for phase two. “The potential for the instrument looks extremely promising. During phase one, we saw no-show rates for treatment drop 14 percent from the previous year, and counselors found the reports helpful to their work.”

Experts on motivational enhancement therapy from Yale University continue their support and consulting services for this highly significant project.

For further information on the EECD project or Polaris CD please send an email or visit:

The project described was supported by Award Number 2R44DA032180-02 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The content is solely the responsibility of Polaris Health Directions and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute on Drug Abuse or the National Institutes of Health.

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