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The Ethics and Impact of Online ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment: A Closer Look

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Mason Walker
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The Ethics and Impact of Online ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment: A Closer Look

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Escalation of Online ADHD Diagnoses

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With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare industry has seen a seismic shift to virtual care, with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) diagnosis and treatment being no exception. In Ontario, for instance, in-clinic ADHD assessments and prescriptions have been replaced by a virtual care model. The result is an increase in diagnoses and quicker turnaround times, but it also raises significant ethical issues.

Profit-Driven Virtual Care: A Double-Edged Sword

For-profit clinics are capitalizing on the shift to virtual care, offering online ADHD diagnoses and prescriptions for children and charging hefty fees. As a result, ADHD prescriptions have surged during the pandemic, inciting concerns of over-diagnosis and misdiagnosis. More worryingly, this move towards virtual care seems to have led to increased ADHD diagnoses among women, people of higher income, and those aged 20 to 24. This raises concerns about potential exploitation and over-diagnosis as healthcare becomes increasingly privatized.

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While virtual care has proven necessary in rural areas where in-person access to healthcare is limited, these private clinics are only accessible to higher-income families. This exacerbates the gap in care for lower-income individuals, revealing a darker side of the shift towards online healthcare.

Online ADHD Therapy Platforms

As ADHD affects 9.6% of U.S. children and 4.4% of adults, numerous telehealth platforms have emerged to provide online therapy for ADHD treatment. Platforms such as PlushCare, Teladoc Health, Thriveworks, and Amwell offer services from licensed mental health providers and include services like medication management. However, these platforms do not prescribe controlled substances like Ritalin and Adderall, which are commonly used in ADHD treatment.

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Shortage of ADHD Medications

Complicating matters further, there is a reported shortage of Adderall and other ADHD medications. This shortage has created frustration and challenges for parents and patients, disrupting treatment plans and affecting the daily lives of those with ADHD. The causes of the shortage, including manufacturing delays and increased demand, are explored, with regulatory challenges in increasing production and potential ties to the opioid crisis also being discussed.

Ensuring Accurate Diagnosis and Treatment

The current situation underscores the urgent need for additional controls in the virtual diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. There are valid concerns about over-diagnosis, excessive prescription, and misdiagnosis. These issues call for the implementation of rigorous measures to prevent misdiagnosis and ensure accurate diagnosis and treatment.

The shift to online healthcare services brought about by the pandemic is here to stay, but it must be navigated carefully to avoid exploitation and ensure that all individuals, regardless of income, have access to accurate diagnoses and effective treatment. As we continue to adapt to this new model, it is crucial that we prioritize ethical practices and patient well-being above all else.

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