PharmChek and CourtFact: Changing the Course for SCRAM of California

May 27, 2024

PharmChek® has been a trusted drug testing system for decades, providing 24-hour accountability and court-supported results for drug courts and agencies nationwide. But when Noah Leathers, director of sales and solutions engineering at SCRAM of California (SCRAM of CA), ran into challenges in tracking and scheduling nearly 1,000 individual clients for a single agency, he started looking for a way to make the PharmChek® Sweat Patch even better for their drug testing system.

That search brought PharmChek® and CourtFact® together for the first time. And now, we’re making it part of our standard services. Here is the story that made it possible.

Why SCRAM of California Chose PharmChek® for Drug Testing

In 2014, Proposition 47 changed the way felony charges were defined. The result was a significant shift in caseloads and an overwhelming need for better accountability for drug-related crimes. Noah explains that courts needed answers about why many offenders had multiple charges.

“All these different crimes could be traced back to a person’s drug addiction, from combating with a law enforcement officer to petty theft. So many had been committed under the influence of drugs.”

What SCRAM of CA discovered was that, despite saliva and urinalysis screenings returning negative again and again, these offenders were still using drugs. They passed the tests during mandated check-ins but tested positive upon arrest, which meant something was wrong with the testing method.

Two judges within the jurisdiction came to SCRAM of CA for a solution.

“They came to us saying, ‘You have a 24-7 alcohol monitoring solution. How do we do something like this for drugs?’ And I remember thinking that this was a great question. That’s when Doug Crook of PharmChem started talking with us about the PharmChek® Sweat Patch.” That was in 2015. Today, SCRAM of CA exclusively uses the PharmChek® Sweat Patch for long-term drug testing in its programs. There are several reasons for this choice.

Accountability, Guidance, and Sobriety

According to Noah, the PharmChek® Sweat Patch provided three things their system needed for drug-related testing: client accountability, better information to guide the courts, and increased, proven client sobriety.

Once applied, the PharmChek® Sweat Patch kept clients accountable for their actions.

“It acted just like the bracelets we put on people—providing accountability to say, ‘Hey, you can do this.’ It’s not a solution on its own; you still have to do your treatment, see your counselor, and follow all the steps in the process. But now, when clients go home, and they hit stressful moments, that patch is there to help them remember that they need to make sure they don’t fall back into old patterns.”

Beyond accountability for clients, PharmChek® also offered SCRAM of CA the ability to guide judges in court cases. By identifying problems, setbacks, and even victories, their clients came to court with more actionable evidence to support their next steps.

“You don’t know the real problems behind addiction unless you know the full story. When you see three months of sobriety, a couple of positive tests, and then three more months, you know where the challenges lie.”

Finally, SCRAM of CA saw increases in sobriety for their clients. “I’ve had clients tell me how the PharmChek® Sweat Patch was a reminder that they really could get sober. And when they finally leave the program, they’re completely changed because of the sweat patch.”

PharmChek® for Juvenile Drug Courts

Yuma County's juvenile drug court needed a better way to test, track, and motivate its participants safely. The PharmChek® Drugs of Abuse Sweat Patch was their solution.

Remaining Obstacles for SCRAM of California

Despite the great strides made with PharmChek® in place, Noah noted that SCRAM of CA was still struggling with a few challenges facing its agencies.

Missed Appointments

According to Noah, the biggest challenge in SCRAM of CA’s program was that many clients would not show up for collection appointments.

“We’re dealing with people that have a drug addiction. And for the first 60 days of being in the program, their go-to mindset is not sobriety; it’s getting the next high and nothing else. They just wouldn’t show up for patch collection. And that was a problem when we’d get to court.”

Contacting noncompliant clients becomes increasingly tricky as the caseload volume grows. Noah saw this play out in his experience with a caseload of over 800 clients.

“We’d put a patch on at the beginning of the month, file the paperwork, and schedule the collection appointment for two weeks later. But those two weeks would pass, and the client would miss their appointment. With no way of easily tracking down an individual to get the sample back, courts lacked the evidence to take the next steps.”

As they searched for solutions, Noah learned that agencies needed help keeping track of appointments and a better way to remind clients of those appointments.

“It’s one thing to tell clients that they need to come in for their patch, but keeping them mindful of that appointment over longer periods is a whole different thing. Without a more automated system, our agencies found it nearly impossible to remind the clients effectively.”

Better Agency Transparency

When court-mandated sample collection is hindered by clients not showing up for appointments, a program's ability to demonstrate clear and complete client progress is challenging. But the effects go beyond the program itself and into the courtroom. Judges want a complete picture, but agencies often face difficulties when clients don’t maintain compliance. The patches were doing their job, but SCRAM of CA wanted better transparency for both courts and clients.

“The judges were upset that these clients would get a new charge against them while they were on the PharmChek® Patch, but because clients weren’t making their appointments, we couldn’t provide the records the judges needed to move forward.” Noah wanted to find a solution that eased agencies' workload while improving client compliance. To overcome this accountability gap, he talked with SCRAM of CA executives about incorporating a digital tracking system built around the PharmChek® Sweat Patch.

Impact on Funding

On the agency side, the impact of these missed appointments directly affects funding in two specific ways.

Around 60 percent of SCRAM of CA’s clients have drug addictions when they enter the program, so the tools are at no cost to them. However, in many cases, these individuals would never return after the initial application of the PharmChek® Sweat Patch. That lost test result is the first loss for agencies but is not the most significant.

According to Noah, the real loss came from trying to track down the client and get them back into compliance.

“Forget the patch costs. The staff had to go and try to find this client, call them, draft all the notices for the court, and then go to court and testify on this matter. The cost of the patch was minor in comparison to the hours we spent chasing clients.”

But all that effort doesn’t change the goal for SCRAM of CA. Noah says that they work tirelessly to help clients break free from the cycle of addiction and develop the ability to get back on track and succeed. And part of that process is knowing that the start of the journey will have setbacks like positive drug tests.

“We know the client will not come through the door ready to go. It’s a process to change the mentality, and we believe that we can be part of that process.”

When clients don’t follow through, funding is a concern, but the impact on the client is far more costly. SCRAM of CA wanted a better solution to curb that loss for the agencies they served.

Chain of Custody

PharmChem has observed the detrimental impact of chain of custody (COC) protocol issues with many of our direct agency customers. When marred by mistakes or omissions on COC forms, the analog process of collecting information can lead to a “test not performed” result, disqualifying the sample and significantly impeding the recovery process. This loss of evidence can abruptly halt a court case and hinder clients from progressing to the next crucial steps in their recovery journey.

SCRAM of CA worked with CourtFact® to solve this problem. Their solution nearly eliminates the manual labor required to manage analog chains of custody, saving incredible time per client.

Eliminate No-Tests

Tired of TNP results? Find out how to eliminate patch collection problems, shipping issues, and COC mistakes to make your testing results count.

How CourtFact® and PharmChek® Work Together

In 2020, Noah began talking with Jason Tizedes, vice president of marketing and sales of CourtFact®, about a software solution that would streamline SCRAM of CA’s drug testing protocols, from client accountability to records keeping. That solution was CourtFact®.

Scheduling Reminders

The first challenge on Noah’s agenda was reducing no-shows. He found this problem had more to do with clients keeping track of appointments than trying to avoid them. So, the solution came in the form of regular appointment reminders via CourtFact®.

“A study from 2016 found that reminding patients of scheduled appointments at three different points can dramatically improve attendance. So when we came to CourtFact®, we asked if we could do something like this for our clients. Jason said that it was absolutely possible.” Now, SCRAM of CA sends reminders via text, email, or push notifications through the CourtFact® client app a day before and two hours before each appointment. They also notify the client in person after the patch application.

Streamlined Records

Another issue that SCRAM of CA wanted to address was the challenge of bringing screening records into court to show a client’s progress. Without CourtFact®, it takes a great deal of digging through paper records to find all the tests for a single client, to find batches of tests for a specific population, or to show the big picture of a client’s progress.

CourtFact®’s digitized records completely changed that process. With just a few clicks, individual agents could find, organize, and present detailed records for any number of clients.

“In the past, our agencies would pull these reports and do the math by hand. Now, the reports for screening numbers are so simple. It gives a complete dashboard for stats like compliance and check-ins, telling us how many clients are testing positive in any given caseload.”

Customizable Reports

The same streamlined records retrieval system started to show a bigger picture within communities affected by drug abuse and addiction.

“Getting agencies, courts, and probation offices the data they needed was a challenge, especially for funding allocation. CourtFact® came in and made it easy to get reports ready, and it helped programs see where the biggest concerns were. In one program, we saw that 70% of patches were coming back positive for methamphetamine. That made it clear that the community needed to address that problem rather than take a blanket approach.”

This ease in finding records brings more transparency to client recovery and a better picture of community needs to overcome substance use trends.

E-Signable and Electronic COCs

With this fully online records system, Noah sees new opportunities for agencies that want to further improve compliance. And CourtFact®’s latest feature makes this possible.

“I saw a potential problem with how agencies handled documents from the beginning of a case. Consistency is key for court cases, and keeping paperwork for bigger caseloads organized was difficult. We needed a digital solution to help agencies improve their record-keeping processes.”

Once again, CourtFact® had an answer. Their new digital records-keeping solution made the entire COC process easier to track, fill out correctly, and read by moving it onto its platform.

“Now agencies can print the full chain-of-custody form, including the adhesive labels, straight from CourtFact®. And it guides our agents through each step of the process. No more missing form fields, no more poor penmanship, and no more organizing analog records.”

Adding e-signable COC forms allows clients to report for patch collection at any convenient agency location instead of returning to the same office of the initial application. E-signable COCs also make it possible to perform collections in the field if and when necessary.

“This extra freedom and flexibility—where a client can have the patch applied in one location and removed in another—is incredibly beneficial.”

Detailed Notes

The digital files within CourtFact® also eliminate the challenge of taking and keeping track of notes for each client. All notes made during application and removal are accessible via app or desktop, and the fields auto-populate for the client.

“You can add notes about where the patch was placed on the body, the condition it was in when it was collected, and even the orientation of the patch. You can upload photos to the file as well. We can even schedule check-ins on the patch’s condition where the client can take a photo and upload it to the client portal.”

CourtFact® makes it easier than ever for large caseloads to stay on track, even when agencies need multiple pieces of information to prove compliance.

Digital COC Forms

Streamline your paperwork with our e-signable chain of custody forms, now available through our partnership with CourtFact®.

Results Through PharmChek® and CourtFact®

So what can agencies expect to see when they use CourtFact® and PharmChek® together? Noah says they’ve seen improvements in several key areas, from tangible benefits to motivational encouragement.

Reduced Administrative Work

With the addition of alerts for missed appointments, calendar reminders, automated workflows, and easy-to-access records and reports, Noah says agencies can see significant reductions in time spent doing administrative work.

“When you talk about a measurable return on investment, we regularly see a 60% reduction in administrative work. And that flows into every aspect of an agency’s operations.”

Higher Compliance Rates

SCRAM of CA’s agencies saw a dramatic improvement in compliance when CourtFact® entered the picture.

“What I saw was 98% compliance on return appointments. Clients automatically came back without the manual labor on our end of managing paperwork and tracking them down; it was all in CourtFact®. We finally had a complete story to tell for each client, and we could pull all that information through CourtFact®.”

Positive Case Outcomes

The instantly accessible data in CourtFact® helps guide court officials in sentencing and treatment steps, giving clients even more success. However, it’s also a motivating factor for clients since they can access their results through the mobile app when agencies upload their reports directly to the client’s viewable documents.

Proof of Progress

Those positive case outcomes move beyond drug courts when parental rights are involved. With CourtFact®’s data tools, the PharmChek® Sweat Patch proves—without a doubt—that a client has been compliant and is making the decisions necessary to regain custody.

“Clients come to us and ask for their records so they can fight for their kids. We now have a complete story for that client to share with the court. That’s a big benefit most people don’t consider.”

A Better Picture

Client success doesn’t depend on a single result. The big-picture view recognizes the progress individuals make through their recovery journey. Noah says positive test results are expected during the first 60 days of treatment; seeing the long-term collective results paints a much better picture of program success.

“When I came to Jason Tizedes at CourtFact®, I told him I wanted to see my client’s full story. One lab result just doesn’t give that story. I wanted to see all their screenings, all the notes, and all the progress in one place. That’s what CourtFact® did, and that makes all the difference for us.”

By pairing PharmChek® with CourtFact®, SCRAM of CA could provide accountability for clients and agencies, build and maintain trust with courts, and clearly demonstrate clients’ journeys toward sobriety.

Combining PharmChek® and CourtFact®

PharmChem's Chief Revenue Officer Kerri Wagner says, "We couldn't be more excited to join forces with CourtFact®. This collaboration will continue a wave of innovation that amplifies the strengths of both PharmChek® and CourtFact®."

PharmChem customers can take advantage of CourtFact® by contacting their PharmChek® account representative, calling toll-free 855-458-4100, or emailing for more information.