GAP President Calls Memory Fitness Programs Through Medicare Advantage “a Game-Changer”
Nashville (February 28, 2019)? – Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation (GAP) President John Dwyer today announced a roadmap for increasing participation in Alzheimer’s clinical trials by supporting and collaborating with memory fitness supplemental benefit programs offered through select Medicare Advantage plans across the United States. Dwyer made the announcement in a speech to more than 150 experts on Alzheimer’s clinical trials from GAP’s network of more than 70 affiliated public, private and academic sites (GAP-Net) during the third annual GAP-Net Site Optimization Conference at the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University.
“The opportunity to collaborate with and augment memory fitness programs through Medicare Advantage is a game-changer,” said Dwyer. “Memory fitness programs support better brain health, increase awareness about cognitive health, and create opportunities for millions of people to learn more about clinical research.”
Dwyer announced GAP is working closely with insurers to encourage and assist in adding a memory fitness benefit to their Medicare Advantage offerings.
In addition, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently proposed two new Risk Adjustment Hierarchical Classification Codes for dementia, a decision that will ?incentivize Medicare Advantage Organizations? to diagnose dementia earlier, leading to improved clinical evaluations, care and quality of life for Medicare Advantage enrollees. In turn, Medicare Advantage Organizations will benefit from increased recruitment and retention, lower long-terms costs and better health outcomes for participants.
“We desperately need to expand the conversation around brain health as well as early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s and related dementias,” said Dwyer. “Now thanks to CMS’s vision, Medicare Advantage programs have an incentive to address the needs of members with these conditions. It’s a much-needed win for patients, payers and the field generally.”
When medical professionals identify memory problems early, patients can explore their medical options more proactively including clinical research – where they might benefit from an in-depth examination, access to experimental treatments and help accelerate progress toward a cure.
Increased awareness and information-seeking will relieve the recruitment bottleneck facing the Alzheimer’s research community. Ninety percent of Alzheimer’s clinical trials in the U.S. are delayed because of challenges recruiting trial participants.
GAP-Net research sites are also working to bring more African Americans and Latinos into clinical trials so that treatments can be found that work for everyone. African Americans are twice as likely as white Americans to have Alzheimer’s, and Latinos are 1.5 times as likely, yet those groups are under-represented in clinical trials.
Participants at the conference also will discuss ways to stand up new trials more quickly and conduct them more efficiently. Among the programs GAP is developing are:
? Standardized, efficient methods to train and certify raters to evaluate clinical trial participants
? Processes to study and validate biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease
? Increased physician outreach and novel tactics to drive more first-time referrals.
At the conference, GAP is premiering a new ?animated video? ?from its ?Acti-v8 Your Brain? initiative. The video offers practical steps people can take to stave off dementia as they age – including getting involved with clinical research. GAP-Net sites will use the video to engage their communities with advice about brain health and grow the pool of potential research volunteers.
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