New digital exam enables providers to screen brain health quickly, allowing more efficient and accurate early signalling of cognitive decline.
Neurotrack, a company spearheading science-backed cognitive health solutions, has announced the launch of the first ever three-minute digital cognitive assessment that enables providers to quickly screen for cognitive decline and impairment.
Longevity.Technology: Cognitive decline can be an early indicator of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and being able to screen for decline and impairment during an annual wellness exam foster early detection and, therefore, early intervention.
There are a number of converging factors driving the need for cognitive screening at scale, including an aging population and a critical shortage of neurologists, neuropsychologists and providers specialising in senior care. With a projected one in 10 older adults expected to develop Alzheimer’s, the US will need to triple the number of geriatricians alone by 2050 in order to care for them.
In a sample survey of adults with either Medicare Advantage (MA) or fee-for service Medicare, only about a quarter of those enrolled say they received an evaluation, despite CMS guidelines that require cognitive assessments as part of annual wellness visits for Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Part B. 
Neurotrack’s digital exam has been designed to fit easily within a typical primary care annual wellness visit or alternately empower patients to independently assess their cognitive health and share the results with their providers. The company says that the easy-to-use assessment can identify patients with cognitive impairment in just three minutes, with better accuracy compared with traditional methods and uses culturally-agnostic symbols and numbers to reduce bias in testing for those with other languages, backgrounds, and cultures. For providers, Neurotrack’s platform offers a scalable way to screen patients for potential cognitive issues, regardless of symptoms.
“Early detection is critical for patients facing a diagnosis like Alzheimer’s or dementia, but unfortunately most patients aren’t screened for cognitive impairment until they show symptoms, which can appear more than 20 years after initial brain changes have occurred,” said Elli Kaplan, founder and CEO of Neurotrack.
“We want to empower providers to integrate cognitive testing as a new vital sign in annual physical exams starting at age 65, with the hope that an earlier diagnosis for patients with dementia will lead to more effective interventions .”
“The need for this type of diagnostic tool, at this time, cannot be overstated,” said Dr Jonathan Artz, a neurologist at Renown Health, who is a Core Member of a Statewide Planning Team to develop a Nevada Memory Care Network that would include a cognitive health screening platform.
“Neurotrack’s technology would make cognitive assessments as part of the yearly Medicare Wellness Visit more manageable and efficient for primary care providers. The Neurotrack offering is well designed and has the features necessary for integration into the Nevada Memory Care Network .”
Dr Artz added: “Neurotrack’s solution is grounded in proven methodologies that are scientifically validated and can detect possible cognitive impairment. Using this tool within a clinical workflow opens up the possibility for every senior to be screened in a more timely manner and earlier, when an intervention can be most effective.”
“With a rapidly growing aging population and new factors stemming from COVID and the social isolation many experienced during the pandemic, cognitive decline is a significant concern for people over the age of 65. There’s a critical need for these kinds of assessments,” said Dr Andrew Cunningham, a practising physician who also serves as a clinical services director for Neurotrack.
“This screening tool was designed by primary care physicians for primary care physicians to meet this need and empower providers to better care for their patients .”
Neurotrack is currently developing a new “digital therapeutic” to delay or prevent cognitive decline when early signs are detected. As part of this work, the company is conducting a clinical study in collaboration with researchers at the University of Arkansas to look at the effects of health education and health coaching on cognition and cognitive risk factors, using grant funds from the National Institute on Aging. Preliminary results show significant reduction in symptoms after one year of intervention: thinking and memory improve, and depression and anxiety lessen.
Neurotrack recently secured $10 million in new funding to support and accelerate its successful go-to-market push with leading health systems and providers across the US and to continue the development of a provider-based solution for those identified with cognitive decline. This additional funding comes on the back of Neurotech’s $13.7 Series B close in 2018 and $21m Series C in 2019, and the latest raise is supported by experts in a range of disciplines including technology, clinical care, biotech, patient advocacy and caregiving.
While continuing to expand their clinical interventions and scientific excellence, Neurotrack has engaged physician leaders from family medicine, geriatrics and geriatric psychiatry to form a new clinical advisory board. The board will advise Neurotrack in order to better meet the needs of patients as well as physicians and health systems caring for an aging population and members include Deborah Dittberner (Regional Medical Director, Aledade),
Meena Makhijani (Geriatrician, UCLA Health), Feyza Marouf (Geriatric Psychiatrist and Healthcare Consultant for Alzheimer’s dementia) and Asha Robinson-Parks (National Virtual Health Physician at Premise Health, Family Physician at Kaiser Permanente and CEO at Rotate Ready).
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