The five finalists in the 2012 Alzheimer’s Challenge have been announced and awarded $25K each, plus mentoring to help them refine their concepts.
The goal of the challenge is the development of simple, cost-effective, consistent tools that could be easily used to assess memory, mood, thinking and activity level over time to help improve diagnosis and monitoring of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
The final prototypes will be presented in June at Finalist Event to a panel of esteemed judges including Dr. Marietta Anthony, Bert Bruce, Meryl Comer, Dr. Husseini K. Manji, Scott Peifer, Dr. Marwan Sabbagh, who will select a winner of an additional $175K.
See below for the various teams and what they have to offer.
Digital Clock Drawing Test (dCDT) | Burlington, MA
Team Name: ClockSteam
Team: Dana L. Penney, PhD, and Randall Davis, PhD
The dCDT applies cutting-edge technology (digital ink) and innovative software to a familiar test – the Clock Drawing Test – to produce a screening for Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.
The test is user and patient-friendly, rapid, inexpensive and portable. dCDT automatically measures variables that are found in traditional clock drawing tests, but goes beyond this, detecting subtle behaviors, previously unmeasurable, that appear to be very early diagnostic markers for pre-symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease, converting each patient’s data into a format easily exported to an electronic medical record or to a database for large scale research.
The ICHANGE system continuously and coincidently monitors signature activities and behaviors of those with Alzheimer’s disease that are readily assessed without the need to remember to wear or charge a device. An array of inexpensive sensors are used to unobtrusively measure key functions whose change has been associated with the progression of cognitive decline.
Data is then aggregated and analyzed with prediction algorithms that are then streamed to stakeholders of interest (caregiver, doctor, clinical trialists) provideing real-time reports of meaningful change.
Ginger.io | Cambridge, MA
Team Name: Ginger.io
Team: Sai Moturu, Lara Sinicropi-Yao, Karan Singh, Anmol Madan and Ryan Panchadsaram
The ginger.io platform is a combination of a mobile phone application and web-based dashboard. The platform passively tracks Alzheimer’s patients’ behavior relevant to their mood, memory and functional status, and administers standard Alzheimer’s cognitive assessments to provide health care providers with a dashboard to measure patient health status, easy-to-interpret scores and novel data analytics to follow new treatments and improve patient care.
BrainBaseline | Iowa City, IA
Team Name: BrainBaseline
Team: Joan Severson, Joshua Cosman, Phd, Jacob Wagner, MD, Phd, Matthew Rizzo, MD, Michelle Voss, Phd, and Dwayne Godwin, PhD
BrainBaseline utilizes Apple’s iPad tablet computer to provide a brief, comprehensive assessment of memory, attention, language and processing speed over time, while minimizing the logistical constraints currently associated with collecting longitudinal cognitive performance data.
The tool aggregates lifestyle and cognitive performance data to give patients and caregivers customized information regarding how these factors interact with cognitive function and can be used to enhance quality of life. Further, these data can be used to understand how specific demographic and lifestyle factors contribute to the incidence and progression of Alzheimer’s.
The Verbal Fluency Meter (VF-Meter) | Minneapolis, MN
Team Name: VF-Meter
Team: Serguei Pakhomov and Laura Hemmy
This brief, non-invasive computerized instrument measures and monitors subtle cognitive changes over time that may be indicative of early Alzheimer’s disease. The test automates the administration and results analysis of a standard verbal fluency task, storing those results on several platforms including computers and mobile devices. The automated measurements will then be used to evaluate a subject’s current cognitive state, monitor cognitive change over time and predict the relative likelihood and rate of progression to dementia.
Initial Judging Phase:
Judging will be based and scored on the ability to meet the following judging criteria and stated point allocation:
Clearly articulates how the submission can help or benefit individuals and/or healthcare professionals by easily and appropriately identifying subtle changes in memory, mood, thinking, and functions relevant to onset or progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
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Adherence to prescription drugs and supplements is a problem that not only puts the long-term health of millions of patients at risk. It's a problem that may add an extra $100 to 300 billion in health care costs in the U.S.
Health is always a big concern. And, if you're worried about your personal health then there's an Android app for that.
There are both Android and iOS versions of the Prognosis: Your Diagnosis game available for free downloads. While not actually investigation your possible health problems it will provide you with clinical case studies to ponder.
The app was designed for doctors, nurses, medical students and presents real case studies to ponder. The idea is to make it fun for medical professionals to learn/recall “two or three key points that can be applied” in their practices. Lay sleuths can follow along too.
A new case is added each Saturday and the app lets you know when you can start diagnosing.
As for your Android phone, Diagnosis: System Information lets you know what's going on behind the scenes inside your smartphone. It lets you know, in detail, nearly every system resource you need to keep track of.
For instance, whether another app is uploading or downloading something and whether that action is grabbing all of your phone's resources. Or, is an app running out of memory? Or, is your phone's battery getting too hot?
Diagnosis for Android phones is free. There's a version for Windows computers as well.
A recent article in the AMA News cites a 2003 health literacy study by the US Department of Education which surveyed more than 19,000 Americans. It found that over one-third had trouble reading and understanding basic medical information. Not surprisingly, people with low health literacy have worse medical outcomes, make more medication errors, have lower adherence to regimens, and are 50% more likely to be hospitalized (National Patient Safety Council). The worst part is that 75% of health illiterate patients will not tell their physicians about it. The biggest issues I see with health literacy are that patients are intimidated to discuss their low health literacy with the provider and to challenge care recommendations (which is not usually in a shared decision context), physicians do not speak in lay terms, and do not have enough time for ample, free-flowing discussions. In addition, low health literacy is not appreciated by providers and therefore the problem is a self-fulfilling one. Among the tips in the article to improve health literacy are recommendations to have people, not machines make appointments, have patients make a list of medications, and prepare and write questions for the provider in advance of an appointment. I found it interesting and embarrassing that there was no mention of technologies in recommendations put forward by the authors. Technology can improve health literacy. Information may be transmitted either in auditory or written mode, and educational materials about disease management, medications, instructions for caregivers, and appointments may be presented in native languages, with illustrations. The patient portal then becomes the common communication tool, which may contain prescribable links from the provider for the patient to view. Patients without PCs at home may watch in the provider’s office, log in at the library, or a smart phone. This type of technology has an ROI that’s hard to demonstrate on a commercial level, but clearly evident on a medical and ultimately gross economic one. Let’s use common sense, get with the 21st century, and improve the patient relationship literacy of our medical students, physicians, and other providers. When we discuss wireless health technologies we often think about fancy tool which collect data from our bodies, even show us our DNA. But if health literacy is not improved, the messages which other mHealth technologies deliver will never have their impact. You may view the AMA article at: (http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2012/03/19/prsa0319.htm ).
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