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iCare-AD/ADRD Eureka Challenge Winners

In October 2019, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) announced three winners in the Improving Care for People with Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias Using Technology (iCare-AD/ADRD) Challenge. The winners shared $400,000 in prizes.

The National Institutes of Health, of which NIA is a part, uses prize competitions to spark new ways of thinking, solve tough problems, stimulate innovation, and advance its core mission of turning discovery into health. The iCare-AD/ADRD challenge was launched in 2018 to drive innovation in the dementia care space. The care of people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias is complex, often requiring many care providers and settings. Technologies like mobile applications could be harnessed to help people with dementia, as well as their professional and family caregivers, health care providers, and health care service organizations navigate the system and coordinate care.

The iCare-AD/ADRD Challenge enabled NIA to engage innovators across the country who had a wide range of skill sets and diverse backgrounds, including those who might not typically contribute to NIA research activities. A diverse collection of 33 individuals and teams—including established aging researchers, start-up companies and biotech firms—submitted applications to the Challenge. The technologies submitted ranged from mobile apps to software platforms. From these submissions, a panel of judges selected three innovations for prizes.

First Place Winner

MapHabit Logo - "MapHabit: Visualize Your Day"Title: Development of mobile software that uses visual mapping techniques to preserve independent function and improve quality-of-life for individuals with AD/ADRD

Team leader: Stuart Zola, PhD, MapHabit Inc.

Team members: Matt Golden, Sidney Law, MD, Jennifer Jin, and Yedarm Kim of MapHabit

Award: $250,000

Abstract (provided by applicant): For those with Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease related dementias (AD/ADRD), the inability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) increases risk of institutionalization and loss of independent living. For caregivers, this increases their levels of stress, depression, and physical burden. Impressive gains in our understanding of AD pathogenesis have not translated into pharmacological therapies that effectively slow or halt disease progression, and medications that are available are not very effective in the long-term and are accompanied by significant side effects. By contrast, evidence-based behavioral approaches are rapidly becoming recognized as methods to provide effective neurocognitive and therapeutic support for AD/ADRD patients and their caregivers. There are non-pharmacological therapies that are easily accessible, personalized, have no side effects, and are low in cost. To that end, we developed behavioral-based mobile (iOS) software that is patient-centered and caregiver-focused and provides behavioral assistance through the use of visual maps.

Screen capture of MapHabit care coordination app, showing a schedule with taking a shower (with an image), getting dressed (with an image) as an upcoming activity, the time, the date, and an image of the person's care partner.
The MapHabit mobile device application helps people with dementia follow simple commands to perform daily tasks, such as taking a shower, and also provides feedback to caregivers. Stuart Zola and Matt Golden/MapHabit. Used with permission.

The MapHabitTM System (MHS) uses picture-and-keyword visual maps to assist memory impaired patients and caregivers in organizing and successfully accomplishing their activities of daily living (ADLs). The MHS is resourcefully designed to serve as a care management tool for caregivers, adult community managers, and clinicians. The MHS is particularly innovative because it takes advantage of the brain’s habit (procedural) memory system, the neostriatum and related regions that can be spared for considerable time during the course of AD, rather than the hippocampal (declarative) memory system that is damaged very early in AD. This innovation, in combination with the MHS visual maps and care management features enables the world's memory-impaired individuals to accomplish their activities of daily living, while providing guidance and peace of mind to their caregivers and family members.

Second Place Winner

U C L A logo: "U C L A Health: David Geffen School of MedicineTitle: Dementia care software system

Team leader: David B. Reuben, MD, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Team member: Lei Ditch, MS, High5LA

Award: $100,000

Abstract (provided by applicant): Despite the dense care that persons with dementia and their caregivers require, few software solutions are available to case managers within health systems and between health systems and community-based organization. Moreover, the leading electronic health records (EHRs) do not have these capabilities built into their systems. The Dementia Care Software system is an independent care management software system designed specifically for dementia that can be integrated into any of the leading EHRs. Specific functionalities include scheduling, case management, communications with community-based organizations, importing and storage of outcomes, and generations of reports. Currently, it supports the UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program, a nurse-practitioner co-management (with primary care providers) approach that includes structured needs assessment of patients and their caregivers; creation and implementation of individualized dementia care plans based on needs assessments and input from the primary care physicians; monitoring and revising care plans, as needed; and Access 24/7, 365 days a year for assistance and advice. To date, over 2,600 persons with dementia have participated in the program and have been entered into the software and case-managed using this software. Through a series of modifications and enhancement, the Dementia Care Software has become a user-friendly, comprehensive care management tool. Advantages include the ability to comprehensively manage care between healthcare systems and community-based organizations as well as compatibility with major EHRs. Moreover, the reports that can be generated will improve quality improvement efforts and comparisons with other sites using the software. Thus, the software fills a missing gap in the coordination of care of persons with dementia and their caregivers.

Third Place Winner

Title: Caregiver411

Team leader: Kristen Naney, PhD, Center for Outreach in Alzheimer’s, Aging and Community Health (COAACH) at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Team members: Grace Byfield, PhD, Christopher Doss, PhD, and Janetta Brown of North Carolina A&T State University

Award: $50,000

Abstract (provided by applicant): Despite the provisions and advocacy of the Internet and mobile healthcare interventions, mobile health (mHealth) technologies fail to provide Alzheimer’s disease (AD) caregivers with tailored information by neglecting to include targeted end-users in the design process of the intended product. In addition, AD caregivers are largely unaware of the existence of AD caregiver mHealth applications (apps), and that use of these technologies can facilitate an increase in self-efficacy and knowledge of a caregiver’s support system. To address these challenges, this team has employed participatory design methods to elicit inclusive input from AD caregivers and implemented human factors, human-computer interaction, and usability principles towards the design and development of Caregiver411. The gaps that Caregiver411 aims to fill are: i) lack of tailored information specific for each stage of AD, ii) lack of assistance for families as they navigate Alzheimer’s care responsibilities, and iii) reduced access to vital AD care information, particularly in highly vulnerable populations. This approach ensures that end-user requirements were captured and instrumental in providing tailored, timely and usable information. Novel contributions of Caregiver411 include capturing the stage of AD of the care recipient in order to provide targeted recommendations for informative topics essential to that stage, and to provide optimized success for chronic disease management. Personalization features will also be included for quick access to favorite AD topics. Caregiver411 has a “Messaging” feature that allows users to form family chat groups and community discussion forums to facilitate peer mentoring, family engagement and targeted social support. All content within the current version of Caregiver411 was provided by the Center for Outreach in Alzheimer’s Aging and Community Health (COAACH) Resource Clearinghouse and COAACH community partners (e.g. local health specialists, respite care facilities, and financial and legal advisors).


Partha Bhattacharya

Partha Bhattacharyya, PhD
Program Director, Division of Behavioral and Social Research
National Institute on Aging

Todd Haim

Todd Haim, PhD
Chief, Office of Small Business Research
National Institute on Aging

Lyndon Joseph

Lyndon Joseph, PhD
Health Scientist Administrator, Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology
National Institute on Aging

Elizabeth Palena Hall

Elizabeth Palena Hall, MIS, MBA, RN
Long-Term and Post-Acute Care Coordinator
Office of Policy, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT

Dana Plude

Dana Plude, PhD
Deputy Director, Division of Behavioral and Social Research
National Institute on Aging

Wendy Nilsen

Wendy Nilsen, PhD
Program Director, Division of Information and Intelligent Systems
National Science Foundation

Marcel Salive

Marcel Salive, PhD
Health Scientist Administrator, Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology
National Institute on Aging

Nina Silverberg

Nina Silverberg, PhD
Director, Alzheimer’s Disease Centers Program
Division of Neuroscience
National Institute on Aging

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