US Alzheimer's diagnoses tripled among 30- to 64-year-olds according to a Blue Cross and Blue Shield analysis

A new analysis of Blue Cross and Blue Shield health insurance claims from 2013 to 2017 showed that early onset dementia and Alzheimer's disease diagnoses tripled among commercially insured adults in the US ages 30 to 64, according to Forbes.

Most US Health System Execs Think AI For Diagnostics Will Be High IMpact Within 5 Years

We've seen some digital health players start making strides in better assessing cognitive impairment. For example, in November 2019, Dutch health tech giant Philips launched its IntelliSpace Cognition digital platform to help clinicians quickly assess, quantify, and track patients' cognitive impairment over time.

And its platform helped overcome a treatment bottleneck caused by the limited number of neuropsychologists able to conduct these kinds of cognitive assessments, which can help clinicians' stymie the progression of dementia and prevent cognitive impairment from becoming cognitive decline. And a month later, Alphabet's Verily partnered with researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Health to test health interventions aimed at improving the physical and cognitive independence of aging adults.

But digital health players should double down on their efforts to combat cognitive decline to become attractive partners to payers dealing with steep treatment costs for a growing population. The growing number of patients diagnosed with early onset dementia and Alzheimer's underscores that there's a large gap in understanding what can be done to prevent cognitive decline.

And with 14 million US citizens projected to be living with Alzheimer's by 2050, the timing is right for digital health players to fully commit to their cognitive impairment programs. And we think payers would view potential tie-ups with startups working to combat cognitive decline favorably, considering the potential to reduce the $350,174 in approximate lifetime costs of care for an individual living with dementia.

And while a cure for Alzheimer's is still far off, providers can take immediate steps such as implementing AI for early detection to positively impact patients in the near term. In August 2019, MIT researchers found that their AI-based approach to Alzheimer's detection could predict clinically significant cognitive decline in at-risk patients as early as two years in advance.

And providers would be wise to consider leveraging AI technology to detect early onset Alzheimer's and prevent progression of the disease, given that it could cost the US more than $1.1 trillion by 2050 and place an even heavier weight on the already overburdened US healthcare system.

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