Measuring up: Creyos aims to bridge the brain health care gap

Creyos Health’s scientifically validated online protocol aims to support the entire dementia care continuum.

Brain health measurement company Creyos Health has unveiled an end-to-end online dementia screening, testing and care planning protocol to enhance how healthcare providers assess and monitor patient cognition. This protocol, which is now available in the Creyos platform, is the result of 30 years of research and scientific validation, and offers full spectrum cognitive care, from early detection of mild cognitive impairment to testing for an accurate dementia diagnosis. This is enhanced by tailored care planning and ongoing longitudinal monitoring.

Longevity.Technology: The protocol come hot on the heels of new statistics released by the Alzheimer’s Association on the prevalence of dementia; the data indicates that not only are nearly 7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, but that this number is expected to grow to a staggering 13 million by 2050 [1]. The early signs of dementia, such as mild cognitive impairment (MCI) often go unrecognized and, as a result, care that could help improve patient quality of life is delayed. It’s estimated that only 8% of older Americans living with mild cognitive impairment receive an actual diagnosis – with 98 million Americans reaching the age of 65+ by 2060, this gap is only going to get larger [2].

Both dementia and MCI are growing problems; early diagnosis enhances intervention efficacy and wraparound approaches improve outcomes, and Creyos’ platform now provides screening for early detection, comprehensive testing, care planning and longitudinal monitoring. We sat down with Professor Adrian Owen, PhD, OBE, a renowned neuroscientist at Western University who is also Chief Scientific Officer at Creyos to find out more.

When it comes to dementia, the statistics make for stark reading.

“The face of our population is rapidly changing,” explains Owen. “Today, approximately 10% of adults aged 65 and older are grappling with dementia – a staggering statistic.”

He points out that over 4 million Americans will be reaching this milestone age this year alone, with the entire baby boomer generation set to join them by 2030.

“We’re clearly on the brink of a significant shift in demographics, but this demographic wave isn’t just a statistic – it’s something that will profoundly strain our healthcare system and impact caregivers,” he adds, citing the Alzheimer’s Association prediction that dementia-related health and long-term care expenses will hit $360 billion in 2024 and nearly $1 trillion by 2050.

“And that’s just considering those who receive a proper diagnosis,” he says. “Dementia is notoriously underdiagnosed. Research suggests that among older adults showing likely signs of dementia, over half are either undiagnosed or unaware of their condition.”

The Creyos dementia takes less than 5 minutes for patients to do.

Owen explains that both current testing methods and access to healthcare suffer from limitations. Traditional assessments can often miss MCI, and accessing specialists such as neurologists or neuropsychologists can be challenging, particularly in low-income or rural areas.

“Failure to diagnose early puts added strain on healthcare systems, both financially and operationally,” Owen explains. “Providers today are not equipped to deal with the scale and scope of this challenge. This is where Creyos steps in; within our platform, we’ve added a protocol to enhance the delivery of timely, accurate, and impactful dementia screening, assessment, and care.”

Creyos’ solution aims to address the major pain points the company hears from providers and that it can see developing with our aging population; the platform includes rapid and reliable screening, better assessments for accurate diagnosis and turnkey cognitive care planning. Combined, these capabilities enable providers to expand their services to deliver high-quality cognitive care, and Owen explains this helps providers address the shifting needs of an aging patient population, without the additional operational burden.

The scale of this growing dementia burden has been a catalyst for several health tech companies, but while most physicians agree that routine cognitive assessments are important, and patients want to know when they are showing signs of dementia, Owen points out that still only a few patients actually receive assessments.

“A possible reason for this disconnect is that assessment options available today are either really basic (like the MMSE and MoCA) or they rely on referrals to specialists like neurologists or neuropsychologists who are themselves overburdened,” he says, explaining that as a result, Creyos’ dementia protocol was constructed to ensure it could scale with the increasing need, and remain fast, accessible and accurate. Another benefit is its ability to integrate seamlessly into providers’ existing workflows.

“We also ensured that the protocol and care planning capabilities aligned with the evolving requirements for insurance reimbursement – both in a value-based care and fee for service insurance construct,” says Owen.

Dementia screening that feels more like games than tests can help reduce anxiety and improve patients’ willingness to be assessed.

“For value-based care providers seeing a Medicare Advantage population of over 65 years old, Creyos enables delivery of cognitive assessment as part of the annual wellness visit and helps increase dementia capture rates which, in the CMS-HCC model, V28, provides greater value. For providers operating under a fee for service model, we ensured our assessment and care planning met the requirements for insurance reimbursement criteria, helping providers expand their services and revenue streams at the same time.”

The need to address neurodegeneration with scientifically-backed solutions is evident, and Owen explains that data, data and more data is your friend in this situation.

“Creyos cognitive tasks are based on over 30 years of scientific research on computerized testing. I think that makes us unique – we only got to this point after spending decades in academia developing and validating instruments for measuring brain health as accurately as possible,” he says. “We made sure that we had information from brain imaging, studies of healthy and patient populations, and a robust database before developing clinical tools.”

He adds that Creyos cognitive tasks are also being used across the scientific and medical community to better understand aging and dementia.

“In addition to the over 400 already published peer reviewed studies using Creyos, ongoing studies are using Creyos assessments to examine the role of Alzheimer’s biomarkers in cognitive performance, and how treatment programs can be designed to slow progression of dementia.”

The Creyos platform, says Owen, aims to bridge that gap between the desire and the ability to measure brain health quickly and accurately. In just a few minutes, and thanks to the power of machine learning, the dementia screener can analyze 22 performance markers, identifying patients who are potentially impaired.

“It’s also easy to interpret, and next steps are available within the Creyos platform,” he adds. “There’s a lot less friction when a concern is initially raised to a healthcare provider, or when introducing routine assessments for all older adults.”

Hopefully, this will all lead to an increase in the earlier detection of cognitive impairment.

“Early detection is crucial, especially because the preventive factors that are under a patient’s control are often long-term lifestyle changes, such as diet, exercise in midlife, and consistent sleep hygiene,” explains Owen. “Screening can make sure clinicians and patients collaborate to implement those changes when they can still make a difference. Emerging pharmacological interventions may also have the best chance if prescribed early, rather than after severe symptoms arise.” He says that this is also why a speedy platform is key. “With dementia, where early detection is paramount to maximize effectiveness of interventions, it was critical that we delivered rapid results to help providers and patients achieve better outcomes.”

There is a growing awareness of the importance of brain health among the general population, something which, says Owen, can’t come a moment too soon.

“Brain health has definitely become a hot topic, which in our opinion is long overdue,” he says. “Cognitive and behavioral health govern quality of life, yet the brain is still so poorly understood. With greater awareness comes things like advocacy for services, enhanced research, and new interventions. Ultimately it leads to innovation that could have dramatic impacts on healthy aging.”

He also adds that this growing awareness also means people are taking a greater interest in taking control of their brain health.

“Findings from Alzheimer’s Research UK a few years ago indicated that a third of people would want to know they have Alzheimer’s 15 years before symptoms. Science isn’t quite there yet, but with early screening and tools, like Creyos, to help providers more easily add brain health evaluation as part of their routine standard of care, we can definitely get closer. We can equip people with the knowledge necessary to make meaningful decisions about their healthcare and lifestyle choices that could dramatically improve their quality of life.”

Owen says that monitoring cognition over time is not common, but comparing performance with a previous baseline is one of the most powerful ways to identify changes to brain health – whether the goal is improvement, maintenance or identifying reasons for decline.

“However, monitoring cognition is just one piece of the puzzle,” he says. “Detecting decline is crucial, but it’s equally important to have a plan of action in place.” Cognitive care planning is integrated into the Creyos platform, meaning that when signs of dementia are identified, practical steps such as living arrangements, caregiver stress, and financial concerns can all be addressed.

By providing patients and caregivers with a roadmap for the future, Creyos aims to empower them with guidance and support to navigate the next steps effectively.

“This approach helps mitigate the risk of caregiver burnout, facilitates better coordinated care, and ultimately offers patients recommendations for lifestyle adjustments that may prolong their autonomy, and reduce costs on an already strained healthcare system.”

Photographs courtesy of Creyos Health, itscroma/Envato, allfridaystudio/Envato

[1] https://www.alz.org/media/Documents/alzheimers-facts-and-figures.pdf
[2] https://alzres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13195-023-01272-z