In recent years, the otherwise missing conversation on mental health has picked some attention. People have finally started addressing mental health issues more openly than before.
Although this open conversation is now happening among the younger population, the older adult population still lags behind in this aspect. With increasing age, a number of physical and mental illnesses occur in individuals. Among these, one of the leading mental health ailments in older adults is dementia.
Even though dementia is mainly found in older adults, it is not a direct cause of aging. The disease affects approximately ten million people every year and impacts not just the individuals suffering from it but also their carers and family members.
To address this serious mental health issue and improve the quality of life of older adults, Cogniciti Inc. came into existence. Cogniciti, through its provision of innovative, evidence-based brain health solutions, is engaging older people in essential conversations about their brain health.
The company is a subsidiary of Baycrest Health Sciences, which is a global leader in residential living, healthcare, research, innovation, and education for older adults, with a special focus on brain health and aging.
In a conversation with Insights Care, Brian Mackie, the Vice President Finance and CFO at Baycrest Health Sciences and Chief Operations Officer at Cogniciti Inc, and Dr Larissa McKetton, Director of Scientific and Clinical Development at Cogniciti Inc., talk about the elaborate services that the company provides to prevent, treat, and cure dementia.
Please brief our audience about Cogniciti, its values, and the key aspects of its stronghold within the healthcare services space.
Cogniciti Inc. is a brain health company and a subsidiary of Baycrest Health Sciences. Cogniciti was originally formed to create a model for bringing brain health science from the research lab to the consumer market through the provision of innovative, evidence-based brain health solutions.
Baycrest is a global leader in research, innovation, education, and care for older adults, with a special focus on brain health and aging.
Baycrest is home to a robust research and innovation network, including:
- The Rotman Research Institute, one of the world’s top research institutes in cognitive neuroscience.
- The Baycrest-powered Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation, a solution accelerator focused on driving innovation in the aging and brain health sector.
- The scientific headquarters of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, Canada’s largest national dementia research initiative.
Fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, Baycrest provides excellent care for older adults through our hospital, long-term care, retirement home, and independent living and combines this with an extensive clinical training program for the next generation of healthcare professionals.
Baycrest and Cogniciti are at the forefront of the fight to defeat dementia, as we work to help individuals fear no age and create a world where every older adult enjoys a life of purpose, inspiration, and fulfilment.
Tell us more about the products/services that make Cogniciti stand out from the competition?
Cogniciti has developed a clinically validated and self-administered brain health assessment (BHA) that provides independent adults aged 20 – 94 with the ability to evaluate whether their memory is normal or if they should contact their physician. The test provides an immediate report after a 20-minute online assessment. The BHA can be used for clinical and research purposes and is also an engaging tool to start the conversation about cognitive health with older adults.
The Cogniciti BHA is as accurate as the widely used Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) at identifying problems with memory and attention. A new study shows that for those with near-normal performance, the Brain Health Assessment performs better than the MoCA at detecting subtle cognitive decline and impairment. In addition, the Brain Health Assessment is more accessible than current tools since it is self-administered and available online.
Over 115,000 cognitive assessments have been completed via the BHA.
Leveraging our growing audience, Cogniciti has developed and utilized its Brain Health Registry. Adults who complete the BHA are offered the opportunity to join the Registry, which provides them early access to brain health research studies in their area. In addition, we provide a monthly newsletter to over 55,000 subscribers.
Cogniciti has recently developed a portal for onboarding organizations to use the BHA for clinical or research purposes. A clinical BHA report is automatically generated, and this system can be used with a license subscription for pre-screening participants in clinical, research, academic, and clinical trial settings.
What is your opinion on the impact of the current pandemic on the global healthcare sector, and how has Cogniciti fared during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns?
During this time, the global healthcare sector migrated to virtual platforms, such as the self-administered Cogniciti Brain Health Assessment. The pandemic has sped up the transition to virtual tools. In 2020, The Sam and Ida Ross Memory Clinic at Baycrest was the first clinic to pilot the clinical use of the BHA, which provided clinicians with more evidence to directly refer patients to special programs. Based on the success of this pilot, the team created an automated clinical portal to support its adoption by other organizations.
In your opinion, what could be the future of the healthcare services sector post the pandemic?
There is a market for tools that can be used to support a more autonomous understanding of a person’s brain health. Cogniciti has solutions from its BHA, the clinical portal, and complementary tools, such as the Smart Tracker that is used to monitor overall health.
The future of the healthcare service sector includes more virtual-based solutions and products and tools that are accessible by all users.
More people can avoid an in-person primary care visit by connecting virtually at home. Care needs to be digitally enabled and distributed widely. Innovation with these technologies, spanning all patients, will also advance health equity through increased accessibility.
As an established leader, what would be your advice to the budding entrepreneurs and enthusiasts aspiring to venture into healthcare services?
Budding entrepreneurs should ensure that their product/service addresses an identified problem. There are many different types of healthcare services and models, so it is also important for any aspiring entrepreneur to find and do work in the field that they care about. Taking satisfaction in your work, having a clear vision, and understanding your industry are all key aspects to consider.
How do you envision scaling Cogniciti’s operations in 2021?
We envision scaling our operations by licensing the use of the BHA as a clinical and research tool. As evidence of the efficacy of the BHA builds, interest from researchers and clinicians across different disciplines is growing significantly.
As an unsupervised, validated test, the BHA has significant value as a pre-screening and monitoring mechanism in some different research and clinical scenarios. The July 2021 publication of a paper, which shows that the BHA performs better than the MoCA, a widely used and supervised cognitive test, is significant and has led to multiple unsolicited inquiries regarding the application of the BHA in different scenarios.
The information within the BHA can be broken down for further analysis, providing different assessments for short-term memory, delayed memory, and executive attention. In addition, our research team is currently validating a French version of the BHA and investigating the test’s translation into other languages.
About the Leaders
Brian is a healthcare executive with more than 25 years of experience in the Ontario health system. He has provided financial oversight in two world-leading academic health centers: Baycrest and the Hospital for Sick Children. Brian is a Chartered Accountant who trained and worked with Price Waterhouse in both the UK and Canada.
Dr Larissa McKetton
Dr McKetton has worked with industry partners, the healthcare sector, and academia. She has a wide range of experience conducting brain-related studies encompassing aging neuroscience, multi-sensory system processing, vascular brain health, big data analysis, and cognitive assessment research and development (R&D).
She brings an extensive background in neuroimaging analysis, cognitive neuroscience, patient recruitment, mentorship, statistical and business expertise. Dr McKetton did her MSc and Ph.D. at York University in neuroscience, looking at clinical and unique populations with a focus on neuroimaging. Her postdoctoral work at Toronto Western Hospital focussed on cerebrovascular reactivity using different types of neuroimaging techniques in the aging brain.
URL – https://cogniciti.com/