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New Program Brings Digital Health to Pharmacies for Alzheimer's Testing

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   June 09, 2022

Roughly 30 community pharmacies across the country will have access to a digital health platform that enables patrons to take a 10-minute, self-administered cognitive performance screening to detect early signs of Alzheimer's disease.

As many as 30 pharmacies across the country will soon have access to a digital health platform that will allow patrons to test themselves for early signs of Alzheimer's disease.

The Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network (CPESN) will select the pharmacies to receive Cognivue Clarity, a self-administered, 10-minute cognitive performance screening tool developed by digital health company Cognivue. The project will include training and onboarding services to help pharmacy employees use the tool to screen patrons and evaluate the results.

“The pandemic highlighted the need for trusted and accessible testing, screening, and referrals for large swaths of the population, but in particular for those living in underserved neighborhoods or with cognitive limitations," CPESN USA Executive Director Troy Trygstad, PharmD, MBA, PhD, said in a press release. "Community pharmacies are likely to play an essential role in early identification, education, and warm handoffs for those at risk or in cognitive decline.”

More than 6 million people in the US currently live with Alzheimer's, according to the Alzheimer's Association, with that number projected to triple by 2060. While there is no known cure, early detection of symptoms can help healthcare providers develop care management plans for brain health that could delay the progression of the disease and improve quality of life.

The program is coordinated by the Avant Institute, a Charlotte, NC-based organization that offers training for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy students on the knowledge and practical application of clinical pharmacy services. It's being funded by a grant from the Switzerland-based Davos Alzheimer's Collaborative, which recently issued $4.5 million in grants to organizations in eight countries to "advance how healthcare systems worldwide detect, diagnose, treat, and care for people with or at risk for Alzheimer’s."

The global project aims to improve healthcare access by connecting with people outside the hospital, clinic or doctor's office and meeting them where they are. Retail sites like pharmacies have often been seen as ideal locations to connect with people, especially underserved populations who can't or won’t see primary care providers on a regular basis.

"This grant provides an opportunity to address a significant need to fill the gaps in conducting standardized cognitive assessments for patients, and pharmacies provide an access point to reach underserved and rural communities," Amina Abubakar, PharmD, president of the Avant Institute and CEO of the Avant Pharmacy and Wellness Center, said in the press release.

Eric Wicklund is the Innovation and Technology Editor for HealthLeaders.

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