New Platform Focuses on Assessing Brain Health

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BCAT’s new telemedicine program offers dementia patients at-home virtual, personal cognitive assessments.

For aging Americans, getting access to dementia care specialists can be incredibly challenging. Not only are there entire geographic regions where there aren’t any experts, but even when experts are available, there is the logistical challenge of getting elderly, possibly disoriented patients out of their homes and into a doctor’s office. And even if these two hurtles are overcome, there are long wait times to contend with.

As with so many emerging medical specialties, it would appear that dementia care – specifically cognitive assessments – is ripe for a telemedicine upgrade. If any patient population could benefit from bringing a specialist into the home virtually, it would be America’s growing elderly population struggling with concerns about dementia.

Into this space stepped the team behind BCAT, the Brief Cognitive Assessment Tool. Founded in Maryland by Dr. William E. Mansbach, PhD, who sits on the Maryland Governor’s Alzheimer’s disease advisory Council, BCAT is known for creating scientifically validated cognition tests in paper form. But Mansbach and company launched a tool in May 2017 called ENRICH (enrichvisits.com) that brings their cognitive testing into the home, including face-to-face video consults.

The ENRICH program is simple, comprised of two basic parts. The first is a cognition calculator. In about one minute anyone with an internet connection can take a survey that gauges their risk for cognitive impairment. How often do you exercise? Do you smoke? What is your BMI?  Six simple lifestyle stats result in a score that can clue you in to your mental risk factors and assess how well you’re doing in living a brain healthy lifestyle. It’s free and it’s easy.

The ENRICH cognitive risk calculator tees the user up for step 2 – a more in-depth cognitive screening assessment powered by the peer-reviewed tools that BCAT is known for. For $24, users can take a virtual Self Assessment of Cognition (SAC) and get results instantly. But it’s the $89 offering that really makes ENRICH unique. For this fee, a live administrator will walk the patient through a comprehensive 30 minute cognitive assessment and email a written report.

Together, these tools offer a powerful way for a patient to gauge whether they need to make lifestyle changes to improve their brain health or need a follow-up with a doctor. And let’s face it, with the rising tide of aging Baby Boomers, the number of people concerned about brain health is going to continue to grow in coming years. Cognition tools and games like Lumosity have proliferated, but few offer scientifically validated testing.

Cognitive assessments have been available for decades, but BCAT’s ENRICH program represents a new foray into consumer-facing tools and products for patients concerned with, or suffering from, dementia. It is both simple and revolutionary that dementia patients and cognitive screeners no longer need to be in the same room together. It’s virtual, visual, and private. And it’s about time.

 

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