Patient Engagement Alcohol Risk Reduction System (PEARRS)

Period of Performance: 09/01/2017 - 08/31/2018


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Vermedx, Inc.
Principal Investigator


PROJECT SUMMARY/ABSTRACT Over a quarter of primary care patients in the United States can be classified as unhealthy drinkers because their alcohol use conveys a high risk of health and social consequences. Unfortunately, unhealthy drinking is under-recognized in spite of the existence of valid screening tools. Even when unhealthy drinking is recognized, barriers such as provider discomfort, shortage of time, and stigma can inhibit appropriate care. The objective of this proposal is to develop and test a new product to support detection and management of unhealthy drinking in medical settings. The Patient Engagement Alcohol Risk Reduction System (PEARRS) will improve clinical practice by combining existing proprietary software with two novel components. The first uses modern machine learning techniques and widely available pre-existing patient data (such as routine lab test results) to build an algorithm that will identify patients likely to be unhealthy drinkers. Publicly available national survey data will be used to develop a prediction model that will then be tested with a clinical data set. The second component is a data system (database, mobile app and related software) that interacts with the patient, providing proven behavior change interventions such as goal setting, self-monitoring, and feedback, while simultaneously providing decision support to primary care providers. Iterative software development approaches will be used to create an app with a simple user interface and reporting functions. PEARRS will provide a sophisticated tool for managing unhealthy alcohol use that will enable better quality of care, treatment outcomes, and cost savings. AIM 1: To develop an algorithm to identify adults at elevated risk for unhealthy drinking based on pre-existing objective laboratory tests. AIM 2: To develop a prototype data system to actively engage patients and providers and support evidence-based self-guided behavior change. PEARRS addresses an unmet need for a low-cost method to reduce the clinical, social and financial burden of unhealthy alcohol use and will improve upon the status quo because laboratory markers will be used as screeners instead of self-report measures that are inconsistently used and can provoke resistance. Further, PEARRS will relieve providers of the need to perform a task they feel underprepared and unrewarded for. The commercial applicability of this technological innovation is high because it is portable and relevant to a broad market of insurers, employers, accountable care organizations (ACOs) and others at risk for the consequences of unhealthy alcohol use. The impact PEARRS will have is substantial because it can overcome known barriers to providing alcohol evaluation and treatment services in general medical settings. PEARRS represents a fundamental shift in how unhealthy drinking is managed in medical settings.