UMass Chan Medical School Researchers Pilot Cognitive Screening Technology for Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease

Primary care providers are using AI-enhanced assessments from Linus Health

Boston and Worcester, MA - April 25, 2023 - UMass Chan Medical School has launched a study to evaluate the use of digital cognitive assessments as part an initiative to advance existing science around the detection of cognitive disorders. Under the direction of David D. McManus, MD, the Richard M. Haidack Professor in Medicine and chair and professor of medicine, and Honghuang Lin, PhD, professor of medicine, researchers are assessing the feasibility and clinical impact of cognitive screening in primary care settings. AI-enhanced technology from Linus Health is enabling participating primary care providers (PCPs) to assess patients’ cognitive function in just a few minutes using an iPad.

Despite 92 percent of older adults in a recent survey saying they would prefer to learn of Alzheimer’s and other dementias early, cognitive assessment rates are generally low in the US today: only 23 percent reported having had one. Furthermore, less than 15 percent regularly raise cognitive health concerns or questions with their PCPs. An Alzheimer’s Association survey similarly showed that, while the majority of PCPs see the value of cognitive assessments, they only do them for half of older patients on average today. Challenges with current cognitive testing tools are a key cause of the gap.

Linus Health designed its digital cognitive assessment platform with PCPs in mind, recognizing that they are in the best position to catch early signs of cognitive decline. The platform is quick, easy to use and sensitive, replacing manual paper-based workflows with efficient digital ones and supporting PCPs with clinical guidance alongside patient results. Rooted in the long-standing Clock Drawing Test, the solution uses AI to detect subtle signs of cognitive impairment by analyzing not only a person’s final clock drawings, but also their process of drawing.

Participants in the UMass Chan study, focused on people 65 and older, will complete the Digital Clock and Recall (DCR™) test and a brief lifestyle-based survey to help providers understand their current cognitive status and future dementia risk. All participants will receive a brain health action plan to help them address any modifiable risk factors identified. Testing will occur within standard outpatient visits.

“Ultimately our goal is to uncover opportunities to detect cognitive concerns earlier on, when providers have more time to intervene,” said Dr. McManus, executive sponsor of the Program in Digital Medicine at UMass Chan. “We believe digital solutions can play a big role in helping us realize that goal, delivering benefits to our patients and their families, as well as our providers.”

The UMass Chan team is putting an emphasis on understanding the patient and provider experience and also collecting caregiver feedback. In addition to gaining insight into the prevalence of undiagnosed cognitive impairment and the impact of digital testing methods on care, researchers will also assess key clinical workflow and triage factors to inform future expansion. The advancement of cognitive testing in primary care is rising in urgency as the FDA’s recent accelerated approval of Leqembi for early Alzheimer’s treatment is poised to spur demand for testing; previous modeling on access to disease-modifying drugs predicted wait times reaching 50 months for specialist visits within five years without better referral triage methods.

“As a primary care physician, I am highly attuned to the importance of integrating new technology in a way that enhances both clinical practices and workflows,” said John Showalter, MD, Chief Product Officer at Linus Health. “We are excited to work with UMass to bring the power of digital to cognitive testing in a way that is feasible and scalable, paving the way for a new standard in cognitive care.”


About Linus Health

Linus Health is a Boston-based digital health company focused on transforming brain health for people across the world. By advancing how we detect and address cognitive and brain disorders – leveraging cutting-edge neuroscience, clinical expertise, and artificial intelligence – our goal is to enable a future where people can live longer, happier, and healthier lives with better brain health. Linus Health’s digital cognitive assessment platform delivers a proven, practical means of enabling early detection; empowers providers with actionable clinical insights; and supports individuals with personalized action plans. We are proud to partner with leading healthcare delivery organizations, research institutions, and life sciences companies to accelerate more proactive intervention and personalized care in brain health. To learn more about our practical solutions for proactive brain health™, visit


About UMass Chan Medical School

UMass Chan Medical School, one of five campuses of the University of Massachusetts system, comprises the T.H. Chan School of Medicine; the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing; ForHealth Consulting of UMass Chan Medical School, a public service consulting division; and MassBiologics, the only nonprofit, FDA-licensed manufacturer of vaccines, biologics and viral vector gene therapies in the United States. UMass Chan’s mission is to advance the health and wellness of our diverse communities throughout Massachusetts and across the world by leading and innovating in education, research, health care delivery and public service. In doing so, it has built a reputation as a world-class research institution and as a leader in primary care education, perennially ranked in the top 10 percent of medical schools for primary care by U.S. News and World Report. UMass Chan attracts more than $300 million annually in research funding, placing it among the top 50 medical schools in the nation. In 2021, the Medical School received a $175 million donation from The Morningside Foundation and was renamed UMass Chan Medical School.


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