A team of clinicians from Plymouth, UK, and Sydney, Australia, have today (Wednesday 9th July 2014 UK, Thursday 10th July Australia) launched ACEmobile - a free-to-use app to support the assessment of dementia, worldwide.
ACEmobile is the first of its kind; an iPad-based tool that supports the assessment of dementia. The tool provides support through the whole process, meaning more members of the clinical team can feel confident carrying out this type of assessment. Designed by clinicians for clinicians, ACEmobile also collects secure and anonymised data to allow the team to improve our understanding of dementia and ability to detect it earlier.
Formed as a not-for-profit venture, the clinical team who developed ACEmobile intend this to be the first step in supporting the growth of an international community of like-minded scientists and healthcare professionals eager to support the project in developing and testing new, and more sensitive, computerised instruments to help in the early diagnosis and evaluation of medical treatments for dementia.
ACEmobile is currently an iPad-based tool that guides the user through the Addenbrooke's Cognitive Examination (ACE-III). The ACE-III is one of the most popular and commonly-used paper and pencil screening tools for dementia. The app removes the need for clinicians to learn the ACE-III manual and it also automatically calculates patients' scores and creates a report to go into their medical records.
The creators have designed the app to make dementia assessment easier and more reliable for NHS staff and health professionals around the world. The research team 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. One of the major factors holding back the development of new treatments for dementia is the relative insensitivity of currently used methods.
The ACEmobile development group are now looking to the future and are exploring the option of a charitable community that will safeguard the long-term availability of the app as a freely available resource. It is hoped that this community will support additional developments with a similar positive impact on patients and healthcare provision. With clinicians, commercial organisations and patient groups already excited about the potential benefits of ACEmobile it is hoped this can be harnessed to support the app and additional developments. The project has already received external funding from the NIHR.
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. A test sample of clinicians has had advance use of ACEmobile and the feedback has been unanimously positive. Dr. Pinkser, working in a Neuropsychology in Brisbane commented: "We found the app to be extremely self-explanatory and easy to use, and we were very impressed with the reporting format."
Dr. Greg Savage from Macquarie University, Sydney, said: "I highly recommend this clever reincarnation of the ACE-III on a tablet-based platform. Its user-friendly instructive interface and scoring features should make it an even more popular cognitive screening instrument."
Dr. Nick Cartmell, a GP from Ashburton Surgery in Devon, commented: "The setup is brilliant. The scoring system is clear and the export options ideal."
The development of ACEmobile has been a collaboration between Professor John Hodges (Neuroscience Research Australia), Dr Rupert Noad (Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust), Dr Craig Newman and Professor John Zajicek (Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry) and has been supported by funding from an NIHR Programme Grant for the Study of Clinical Trials in Neurodegenerative Diseases, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust and the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care South West Peninsula (PenCLAHRC).
Dr Rupert Noad, Consultant Neuropsychologist at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, commented: "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."
Dr Craig Newman, Clinical Psychologist from Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, commented: "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."
Professor John Hodges, Professor of Cognitive Neurology at Neuroscience Research Australia and University of New South Wales, commented: "I'm delighted by this development. The Plymouth team have done a great job producing such an attractive and user-friendly app, which I'm sure will find wide usage. The increase in accuracy of administration and scoring is very welcome. My guiding philosophy has been to produce tests that improve diagnosis, and can aid in monitoring progression, but are freely available which is particularly important in parts of the world where resources are limited."
ACEmobile website: http://www.acemobile.org.
For more information about this news release, contact Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry PR & Media Consultant Andrew Gould on 07971 966 283 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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