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Assessment Tools in Alma: Supporting Therapists and Client Relationships

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"I do like assessment tools to either see if it confirms what the presenting issues are, or if it doesn't, what that potentially means clinically."

Dr. Amy Brown

Clinical assessments serve as a source of truth for providers by enabling them to objectively diagnose clients who may be experiencing a variety of troubling symptoms while also offering an avenue for clinicians to understand these symptoms over time. Therapists using Alma can look forward to an easy, streamlined system that takes the stress out of measuring and sharing patient progress. Continue reading as we highlight the various benefits therapists can expect when using assessments in Alma.

Stress-free clinical intake, from start to finish

"I've worked for clinics before where the intakes are 10 pages long. Alma made it so easy that it's just a questionnaire, and that's what I call it to the client. I don't say it's for depression or anxiety, since it's self-explanatory."

Caroline Cornman

The clinical intake process is a critical first step in the provider-client relationship, and Alma works to make the process as easy as possible for providers. This means eliminating the need for any 3rd party tools that can add to your practice costs and cause unnecessary administrative burden. Also, third-party tools often lead to a disjointed experience for clients that can negatively impact the reputation of your practice.

Alma helps clinicians bypass this by allowing them to email assessments directly to new clients through their portal. Alma also makes it easier for clinicians to understand their client's progress by surfacing opportunities to send reassessments if clients score a ten or above on the PHQ-9 or GAD-7, indicating heightened symptoms.

PHQ-9 and GAD-7

"Just in general, I'm a proponent of assessment because I do think it often confirms how people are presenting."

Dr. Amy Brown

Alma currently offers two digital assessments for providers, the PHQ-9 and the GAD-7, clinicians can email these assessments directly to new clients through their portal. These assessments help providers objectively diagnose clients who may be experiencing depression or anxiety and better understand these clients’ symptoms over time.

What is the PHQ-9?

The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) is a multipurpose instrument for measuring the severity of the nine symptoms of depression identified in the DSM-IV. It’s been vetted for consistency, reliability, and validity - and works by having clients self-assess each of the 9 DSM-IV criteria for Major Depressive Disorder on a scale of “0” (not at all) to “3” (nearly every day).

How to interpret results of the PHQ-9

A client’s score on the PHQ-9 indicates the presence and the severity of depression symptoms. Based on a client’s initial results, providers can choose to schedule check-ins with clients where they reassess them and track their progress. Check out Alma’s resource guide for more information on reassessing clients and tracking their progress. And take a look at the chart linked here to better understand how to interpret the results of the PHQ-9.

What is the GAD-7?

The GAD-7 is a validated 7-question tool that uses some of the DSM-V criteria for General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) to assess for the presence and severity of anxiety symptoms. This article explains how to send the GAD-7 to clients in Alma.

It can also be used as a screening measure for other disorders including panic, social anxiety, and PTSD, though it is slightly less effective when used to assess for these conditions than it is for GAD.

How to interpret results of the GAD-7

A client’s score on the GAD-7 indicates the presence and severity of anxiety symptoms. Based on a client’s initial results, you can schedule check-ins where you can reassess them and check their progress. The chart found here helps clinicians analyze the presence and severity of anxiety symptoms.

Visualize client progress in Alma

Once a client completes an assessment, their score is plotted on the graph for providers to visualize on the client’s profile. This view supports decisions clinicians make throughout care by allowing them to easily identify shifts in assessment scores over time and get clearer insight into client’s well-being. Check out the image below for more insight:

A snapshot of Alma's clinician tools, highlighting a patients PHQ-9 scores over time

Recommended best practices for assessments   

According to Dr. Elisabeth Morray, Alma’s VP of Clinical Operations, best practices for both the PHQ-9 and the GAD-7 include reassessing clients who report clinically significant scores monthly until their score no longer meets the criteria for clinical significance. After this is achieved, reassessment should be considered when the client reports increased symptom intensity or impact on functioning.

Alma’s assessments offer a better experience for therapists - and their clients

There’s no need for third-party tools when using Alma - you can do everything from sending clients assessments to tracking client progress and much more. Elevate your practice and client relationships by speaking with an Alma representative today.

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Merhawi Kidane

About the Author

Merhawi Kidane is a content marketer who helps SaaS companies attract and convert online traffic with the help of the written word (blogs, case studies, emails, landing pages, web copy, social posts, sales enablement pieces, and more).

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