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Dementia Screening Test Adapted for Smartphone App

Hands with arthritis (NIH)

(National Institutes of Health)

Neuroscientists and clinicians from the U.K. and Australia translated a paper-based screening test for dementia into a smartphone app that the developers believe will make the tool more accurate and widely used. The researchers from Plymouth University in the U.K., Derriford Plymouth Hospitals, and Neuroscience Research Australia in Sydney unveiled an advance version of the app today at the Healthcare Innovation Expo 2013 in London.

The developers adapted Addenbrooke’s Cognitive Examination, version 3, (ACE-III) a commonly-used screening tools for dementia. ACE-III items test for attention, memory, fluency, language, and visual/spatial abilities, and are designed to be administered and scored by clinicians. The app, called ACEmobile puts the ACE-III items together with the instructions into a smartphone format, which eliminates the need for a separate manual.

ACEmobile is expected to make administration of the the test even easier for clinicians, and reduce chances for errors. The app is designed to perform all of the scoring — each set of items for the variables measured is scored separately, then totaled — providing an instant and accurate assessment. By offering machine rather than hand scoring, the developers anticipate the app will encourage more data collection from the test, which makes it possible to better audit the test’s administration and eventually result in better normative data on dementia for different patient populations.

The app is the result of a collaboration of John Hodges at Neuroscience Research Australia, Rupert Noad of Derriford Plymouth Hospitals, and Craig Newman at Plymouth University’s medical school. “ACE-III is a great assessment tool, but as with many such tools which are paper-based, it has been open to human error and miscalculation,” says Noad. “By producing the ACEmobile app we have reduced the risk of such error and miscalculation and created a tool which can be used by the wider dementia care team.”

ACEmobile is expected to be available free of charge for download in iPhone and Android versions from iTunes and Google Play by June 2013.

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