A team of clinicians from the UK and Australia have launched a free-to-use iPad app to support the assessment of dementia on a worldwide scale.
ACEmobile is an iPad-based tool that supports the assessment of dementia through the whole process. Designed by clinicians, the app also collects secure and anonymised data to encourage earlier detection.
The app utilises the Addenbrooke’s Cognitive Examination (ACE-III) – one the most popular and commonly-used paper and pencil screening tools for dementia – and removes the need for clinicians to learn the ACE-III manual by automatically calculating patients’ scores into a report to go into their medical records.
Dr Rupert Noad, a consultant neuropsychologist at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust who helped develop the app, said: “ACE-III is a great assessment tool, but as with many such tools which are paper-based, it runs the risk of human error and miscalculation. By producing the ACEmobile app we have reduced this risk and created a tool which can be used by the wider dementia care team.
"Dementia is applying increasing pressure on health care services around the world and is set to continue to do so – by creating a reliable, accurate and easy to use application of ACE-III, and making it free of charge, we hope that the future of the ACEmobile project can play a role in earlier and more accurate diagnoses."
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The research team behind the app will collect anonymised information from each assessment conducted using the app, with a plan to improve the sensitivity of ACEmobile for earlier dementia diagnosis and in assessing the effect of new medications as they are tested.
The designers, from Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust and Care South West Penisula in Sydney, suggest that one of the major factors holding back the development of new treatments for dementia is the relative insensitivity of currently used methods.
ACEmobile represents a potential significant step forward in the world of dementia research since it is being provided to the NHS and research bodies for free and the developers have no intention of generating commercial profit from it.
Clinical psychologist, and another ACE co-developer, Dr Craig Newman, concluded: “Dementia is a worldwide problem that requires a worldwide solution with as few barriers as possible to delivery. We have delivered ACEmobile to iPad and hopefully to Android in the near future and have plans to expand our available tools into the future to support more doctors and nurses in more areas of work. It is free to use and will hopefully be translated into numerous languages as support for the tool increases.
"We want ACEmobile to birth a community of supporters with shared goals: to improve dementia assessment, increase access to timely high quality assessments and utilise any data we can collect to improve the assessment of dementia in the many areas of the community in which it is identified."
For more information visit www.acemobile.org.