Healthy Living

New Smartphone App to Help Doctors Diagnose Alzheimer’s

The app’s unique design

The research team created the app based on the most common tool used in dementia diagnosis. The tool is a complex questionnaire known as the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale (CDR), which was also developed at the Washington University School of Medicine.

The CDR evaluates each patient’s likelihood of having dementia. It does this by using specific questions to gain insight in 6 domains related to a person’s functional status. The domains are memory, judgment, problem-solving ability, personal grooming, community involvement, and home life. Patient caregivers answer the questions, and each answer choice correlates to a specific score. At the end of the survey, the scores are compiled into a report that helps doctors determine dementia risk.

The caregivers answer questions on an iPad before doctors even see the patient physically in their office. By doing this, all the easily acquired information is gathered before the dementia specialist evaluates the patient. There are 60-100 questions that ask about the relevant medical history and cognitive status in each patient. All the information then gets presented to the doctor right before they see the patient. The idea is that with the information available beforehand, doctors can make an accurate diagnosis quicker than having to ask each of these questions during the patient interview. This leaves more time to spend with the patient and caregivers so that all their questions regarding the diagnosis and treatment options can be answered.