Cleveland Clinic receives $2.6M to develop risk calculator for predicting cognitive decline 

The National Institute on Aging awarded Cleveland Clinic a $2.6 million grant to build and validate two automated tools that will identify and screen patients at high risk of cognitive decline, according to a Nov. 5 news release. 

The five-year research project is split in two phases. The first will focus on developing and validating a low-cost risk calculator that estimates patients’ likelihood of experiencing cognitive declines over the next five years. Researchers will use EHR data, such as health status indicators, demographics and socioeconomic status, to predict who is at high risk for developing cognitive decline. 

The research team will also test the longitudinal utility of a patient-administered tool called the Brief Assessment of Cognitive Health, which is automated with audio instructions and can be completed by the patient in the waiting room in about 15 minutes. The tool comprises a complex memory test, depression screen and medical history form. BACH is also integrated into Cleveland Clinic’s Epic EHR platform, so patient results are automatically recorded in their record. 

Researchers will compare the BACH to the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, which is the current screening standard, and to neuropsychological testing to determine which is more sensitive to cognitive change over time. 

The team will conduct an implementation trial for the last three years of the project to gauge uptake and utility of the risk calculator and BACH in several primary care practices affiliated with Cleveland Clinic. Researchers plan to launch a web-based version of the BACH that people can complete at home, and if the tools are validated, the health system plans to offer them to other large medical systems and insurers. 

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