The National Institute on Aging (NIA)awarded MapHabit, a health technology (HealthTech) Atlanta startup the first place prize of the Improving Care for People with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Using Technology (iCare-AD/ADRD) Challenge,
MapHabit is a company in the Advanced Technology Development Center’s ATDC Accelerate portfolio, and co-founded by Stuart Zola, Ph.D., and Matt Golden.
As the first place winning team, the company will receive the $250,000 first prize for its mobile device application that helps people with dementia follow simple commands to perform daily tasks, such as taking pills and brushing teeth. The technology also provides feedback to caregivers.
“This mobile software provides behavior prompts with customizable picture and keyword visual maps to assist memory-impaired people with accomplishing activities of daily living,” said Zola, MapHabit’s chief science officer and professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University.
“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,” he said. “Caregivers can monitor adherence to medication schedules or track other activities.”
NIA is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)and the 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 Dr. Richard J. Hodes. “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 shared a total of $400,000 in cash prizes.