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Winners announced for National Institute on Aging dementia care coordination challenge

NIA's Eureka competition awards focus on mobile apps for people with dementia, healthcare providers and caregivers

MapHabit, Inc., is the first place winner of the Improving Care for People with Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias Using Technology (iCare-AD/ADRD) Challenge, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA). The Atlanta-based MapHabit team, led by Stuart Zola, Ph.D., will receive the $250,000 first prize for their mobile device application that helps people with dementia follow simple commands to perform daily tasks, such as taking pills and brushing teeth, and also provides feedback to caregivers. NIA is part of the National Institutes of Health.

graphical representation of four hands holding technology devicesThe challenge is NIH’s first Eureka prize competition, which was included in the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act. The Eureka competition is designated for biomedical science that could realize significant advancements and/or improve health outcomes in diseases and conditions that have a disproportionately small research investment relative to expenses for prevention and treatment, represent a serious and significant disease burden, or for which there is potential for significant return on investment.

“The intent of this challenge was to spur technological innovations so that the overall quality of dementia care could be improved,” said NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. “By enabling more effective management of dementia care overall, we anticipate that such innovations could have the potential to improve the quality of life of those living with dementia.”

An estimated 5.6 million Americans age 65 or older are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and thousands more live with related disorders such as frontotemporal, vascular, Lewy body, and other dementias. Because the care of people with these diseases is complex and can involve multiple care settings, care providers, and interventions, new technologies offer the potential for aiding people in the care spectrum, including people with dementia, professional and family caregivers, health care providers, and health care service organizations.

As part of the challenge, NIA received 33 applications for mobile device applications or web-based methods that could help people coordinate and/or navigate the care of dementia. Applicants could either develop new technology applications or make improvements to existing apps. Applications were submitted by both individuals and teams, including researchers from the field of aging and other individuals, start-up companies, and biotechnology firms.

The judging was based on five criteria: creativity and innovation, rationale and potential impact, value to relevant stakeholders, usability, and functionality and feasibility. The winners will share a total of $400,000 in cash prizes:

  • First place prize awarded to MapHabit: This mobile software provides behavior prompts with customizable picture and keyword visual maps to assist memory-impaired people with accomplishing activities of daily living. The care management platform employs different interfaces depending on whether the user is a person with impaired memory, caregiver or long-term care community manager. Caregivers can monitor adherence to medication schedules or track other activities.
  • Second place prize of $100,000 awarded to a team from the University of California, Los Angeles, led by David Reuben, M.D.: The web-based Dementia Care Software system, which was developed with High5LA in Los Angeles, helps specialists deliver care to many people with dementia. Because dementia requires both medical and social services, care management can be complex. The case management software, which integrates with the electronic health record system, has already been used at UCLA to coordinate the care of thousands of people.
  • Third place prize of $50,000 awarded to a team led by Kristen Naney, Ph.D., at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro: The Caregiver411 mobile device application enables dementia caregivers to foster social connections through a messaging center and obtain tailored resources related to mental, emotional, physical, social, legal, and financial concerns. The app also enables caregivers to find local health specialists and other professionals. By connecting caregivers and family members with targeted information, the Caregiver 411 app can help people make informed decisions at each stage of the dementia care journey.

Read more detailed project descriptions for the winning teams.

About the National Institute on Aging (NIA): NIA leads the U.S. federal government effort to conduct and support research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. Learn more about age-related cognitive change and neurodegenerative diseases via NIA’s Alzheimer's and related Dementias Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center website. For information about a broad range of aging topics, visit the main NIA website and stay connected.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit the NIH website.

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