This startup just raised $8 million to help busy doctors assess the cognitive health of 50 million seniors

over the globe, the population of who are aged 65 and is growing faster than every group. According to , by 2050, one in six people in the be over age 65, up from one in 11 right . Meanwhile, in and North , by 2050, one in four people could be 65 or older.

Unsurprisingly, increasingly recognize opportunities to cater to this aging population. Some are developing products to sell to individuals and their members directly; others are coming up with ways to empower those who directly with older Americans.

BrainCheck, a 20-person, -based startup whose cognitive aims to assess and track the of their , is among the latter. Investors like what it has put together, too. Today, the startup is announcing $8 million in A funding co-led by S3 Ventures and Tensility Venture Partners.

We talked today with BrainCheck Yael Katz to better understand what her has created and why it might be of interest to who don’t know about it. Our has been edited for and clarity.

: ’re a neuroscientist. started BrianCheck with , another neuroscientist and the of NeoSensory, a company that develops for sensory substitution. Why? What’s the ?

YK: We looked across the , and we realized that most cognitive is [handled by] a subspecialty of clinical called neuropsychology, where patients are given a tests and each is designed to probe a different type of function — , visual attention, reasoning, function. They measure speed and accuracy, and based on that, determine whether ’s a deficit in that domain. But the tests were classically done on paper and it was a lengthy process. We digitized them and gamified them and made them accessible to everyone who is upstream of neuropsychology, including neurologists and primary care doctors.

We created a solution that provides clinical decision to physicians so they can manage patients’ cognitive . There are 250,000 primary care physicians in the . and 12,000 neurologists and [they’re confronting] what’s been called a silver tsunami. With so many becoming elderly, it’s not possible for them to address the need of the aging population without tech to help them.

TC: How does your product work, and how is it administered?

YK: An assessment is all done on an and takes about 10 minutes. They’re typically administered in a ’s office by technicians, though they can be administered remotely through , too.

TC: These are quizzes?

YK: Not quizzes and not subjective questions like, ‘How do you think you’re doing?’ but rather objective tasks, like connect the dots, and which way is the center arrow pointing — all while measuring speed and accuracy.

TC: How much does it cost these doctors’ offices, and how are you getting word out?

YZ: We sell a monthly to doctors and it’s a tiered pricing as measured by volume. We meet doctors at conferences and we publish blog posts and white papers and through that process, we meet them and sell products to them, beginning with a free for 30 days, during which we also give them a web demo.

[What we’re ] is reimbursable by because it helps them report on and optimize metrics like patient satisfaction. created a code to compensate doctors for cognitive care , though it was rarely used because the requirements and involved was so complicated. When we came along, we said, us help you do what you’re trying to do, and it’s been very rewarding.

TC: Say one of these assessments enables a non specialist to determine that someone is losing memory or can’t think as sharply. What then?

YZ: There’s a phrase: “Diagnose and adios.” Unfortunately, a lot of doctors used to see their as being done once an assessment was made. It wasn’t appreciated that impairment and are you can address. But about one-third of is preventable, and once you have the , it can be slowed.  It’s hard because it requires a lot of one-on-one work, so we created a tech solution that uses the output of tests to provide clinical support to physicians so they can manage patients’ cognitive health. We provide personalized recommendations in a way that’s scalable.

TC: Meaning you suggest an action plan for the doctors to pass along to their patients based on these assessments?

YZ: There are nine modifiable risk factors found to account for a third of [dementia cases], including certain medications that can exacerbate cognitive impairment, including poorly controlled cardiovascular health, hearing impairment and . People can have issues for many , , Parkinson’s — but health conditions like depression and physical conditions like and treatments like chemotherapy can cause brain fog. We suggest a care plan that goes to the then uses that and modifies it. A lot of it has to do with management.

A lot of the time, a doctor — and family members — don’t know how impaired a patient is. You can have a whole conversation with someone during a doctor’s visit who is regaling you with conversation, then you realize they have massive cognitive deficits. These assessments kind of put everyone on the same page.

TC: You’ve raised capital. How will you use it to move your product ?

YK: We’ll be combining our assessments with biomarkers like changing voice and a of eye movements. We’ve developed an eye- and voice , but those are still in clinical development; we’re trying to get approval for them now.

TC: Interesting that changing voice patterns can help you diagnose cognitive decline.

YK: We aren’t diagnosing disease. Think of us as a thermometer that [can highlight] how much impairment is there and in what areas and how it’s progressed over time.

TC: What can you tell readers who might worry about their as it relates to your product?

YK: Our is HIPAA compliant. We make sure our engineers are trained and up to date. The FDA requires that we put a lot of standards in place and we ensure that our is built in accordance with best practices. I think we’re doing as good a job as anyone can.

Privacy is a concern in general. Unfortunately, big and small have to be ever vigilant about a data breach.



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