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NHS to pilot puzzles app to speed up dementia diagnosis

NHS to pilot puzzles app to speed up dementia diagnosis

The NHS will pilot the use of a puzzles app that can alert GPs to when elderly patients show signs of developing dementia.

The REACTIVE app, designed by researchers at the University of Exeter and King’s College London in partnership with the NHS, can monitor older adults through regular cognitive tests including puzzles and games. It also providers users with brain training to help them maintain their brain health.

The app, which has been backed by £1.9m from the NIHR, provides GPs with data through a portal, helping them to identify people who should be seen for further assessment.

Researchers said the aim is to reach people with early cognitive impairment who currently do not get seen by a GP or memory clinic and ensure that those who are in most need are seen as a priority.

A three-year trial starting in January 2025 and involving 952 people over 65 will validate the app, and researchers will look at its cost-effectiveness, the risk and benefits of this technology, and how to communicate cognitive data to patients.

If the project proves successful, the app will get regulatory approval for commercialisation for use in the NHS.

The researchers told Pulse they hope the roll-out in the NHS could start in five years.

Anne Corbett, associate professor of dementia research at the University of Exeter, said: ‘We know that 99 per cent of people with early signs of problems with their memory and brain health are not seen by a doctor.

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‘Yet these are the people who will benefit the most from early assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.

‘Computerised tests of brain health are far more sensitive and accurate than traditional paper-and-pencil tests and using an app means we can reach large numbers of people in an affordable way.

‘This programme of research is a major step forward towards better brain health for older adults, harnessing the best technology to support people and doctors alike.

‘It will give us vital information about how to fill the current gaps in healthcare in ageing and provide a valuable new tool to improve health and wellbeing for older adults in the NHS.’

The app is being developed as part of PROTECT, an online study open to anyone aged 40 and over.

In PROTECT annual questionnaires on detailed lifestyle factors combine with cognitive testing, to determine what keeps the brain sharp in later life.

GPs will participate in new pilots which will see care home residents proactively screened for dementia in 14 areas of England.

NHS England said it will be investing £900,000 to launch two pilots in each of England’s seven regions, following a successful earlier trial in Norfolk.

People with dementia face waits of up to two years for a diagnosis because memory clinics are ‘chronically underfunded and overlooked’, an audit of services across England and Wales found last year.


          

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READERS' COMMENTS [2]

Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Dylan Summers 11 September, 2023 4:17 pm

Run this by me again. The audit found that memory clinics are underfunded with excessive waits, and unable to cope with demand…

…and the solution proposed is to increase demand by identifying and referring more patients at an earlier stage?

Someone may be showing evidence of impaired cognition here. Is it me or is it the University of Exeter researchers?

Decorum Est 11 September, 2023 4:37 pm

No points for you Dylan Summers!

…and the solution proposed is to increase demand by identifying and referring more patients at an earlier stage? When the audit found that memory clinics are underfunded with excessive waits, and unable to cope with demand…

That’s the standard idiotic problem management proposed on here.