An important study is underway to evaluate an intervention system leveraging the latest technology in clinical settings to foster earlier  identification of sexually transmitted infections in high-risk adolescents.

The Department of Health and Human Services recently awarded the University of Northern Colorado a $1 million grant to collaborate on the project with cliexa, a digital health technology company based in Denver. The funding supports a trial involving 700 participants, ages 14-24, in clinical settings where cliexa’s risk screening tool (a digital platform and mobile health follow-up program) will be in use. The study sites are the UNC Student Health Center, UNC Psychological Services Clinic and Montrose County Family Planning.

The ground-breaking two-year study, led by principal investigators and UNC professors William Merchant and Stephen Wright, will also assess the effectiveness of deploying the new technology in clinical workflows and the benefits of earlier identification of adolescents at highest risk for adverse health outcomes.

“We will assess the quad aims of patient/provider satisfaction, reduced costs and improved outcomes with this study,” said cliexa-OPTIONS Senior Advisor Dr. Lisa Rue. “We want to empower clinicians and providers to do what they do best—counsel patients and encourage optimal wellness.”

Of Note

The project has available funding for new implementation at Public Health and Federally Qualified Health Care Centers, and Title X Family Planning clinics. Providers who want to take advantage of the available pilot funding can try the innovative cliexa-OPTIONS risk screening tool for free for one year. Contact cliexa-OPTIONS Senior Advisor, Dr. Lisa Rue, at, to learn more.

About the Grant

  • Project Title: cliexa-OPTIONS for Integrated Health –Digital Health Technology
  • Grant award: $1 million, July 2019-July 2021
  • Funding Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
  • Researchers: Principal investigators Will Merchant (associate professor of Applied Statistics and Research Methods), Stephen Wright (professor of Applied Psychology and Counselor Education), and Investigator Lisa Rue (cliexa-OPTIONS Senior Advisor).
  • Of note: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of new STDs reported each year are among youth ages 15-24. …The digital sexual health risk assessment tool identities up to 50% more high risk individuals than traditional screening.