Jenay Beer, PhD; Lisa Renzi-Hammond, PhD; Denise Dizon Everson, Med
Competition Sponsor: US National Academy of Medicine
People are living longer than ever with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD), but the key to increased longevity and quality of life with ADRD is early and accurate diagnosis. ADRD are underdiagnosed, in part because rural older adults lack access to specialty care needed for diagnosis. The U.S. healthcare system is unprepared for the increase in dementia incidence anticipated within the next 30 years. Tele-health is one feasible, acceptable solution to help fill the gap in providing ADRD staging and individualized post-diagnosis support. We propose a bold idea that utilizes telehealth to increase access to care and improve rates of ADRD diagnosis. We aim to create an innovative center (referred to as Center X) that mitigates telehealth pitfalls in rural communities: unreliable broadband, privacy issues, information accuracy, and usability. Center X is a new concept under development at a research institution with a large physical campus and a physical presence in all of the counties in our state, through a Cooperative Extension program. Using the University-supported networking, information storage, and staffing resources at these rurally located extension offices, we plan to adapt and validate clinical interviews and neuropsychological assessments delivered via telehealth. We will also test our center model at an Extension office pilot site, to evaluate the implementation requirements to scale this model throughout – and beyond – our state.