Improving the diagnosis of dementia through rapid screening with an iPad app

Clive Thomas, a Primary Mental Health Link Practitioner at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, wanted to improve the timely diagnosis of dementia in primary care and community settings.

For his Bevan Health Technology Exemplar project, he worked with the industry partner Cambridge Cognition Ltd to introduce the use of the cognitive measurement tool, the CANTAB Mobile, to his Health Board.

By using the CANTAB Mobile, mental health nurses and healthcare workers are able to triage patients more effectively by ‘screening in’ only those with a clinically significant memory impairment.

The CANTAB Mobile, a touch screen iPad application, is an effective test of cognition and is 100% sensitive and 92% specific in detecting Alzheimer’s disease. It shows a sequence of abstract shapes to rapidly establish whether memory impairment is clinically significant or not, enabling healthcare professionals to make accurate and timely referrals to diagnose dementia.

This is helping to tackle the issue of poor dementia diagnostic rates by encouraging GPs to identify those patients who are at risk and who they think would benefit from more in-depth cognitive assessment.  This represents a significant saving and more efficient use of current resources.

Its trial at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board has been very successful in triaging for clinically significant memory impairment and the tool has since been recommended for all referrals to Memory Assessment Services throughout Wales.

The collaboration has enabled the purchase of multiple use licences for use by Dementia Support Workers who can now deliver a robust method of triage for clinically significant memory impairment in the patient’s own home. It ensures faster signposting to the appropriate pathway and further support to employ Dementia Support Workers within Primary Care to help to improve dementia diagnosis.

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