Digital Cognition Technologies
Our solution's stage of development:Early
Developed over 10 years, DCTclock is an extremely sensitive test for objective, reliable, and quantified measurement of cognitive function. It enables earlier detection of decline and rapid assessment of cognitive health. Our solution is novel, non-invasive, inexpensive, quick (< 2 minutes), easily used in the field, and is culture neutral.
DCT is a digital health company with clinically proven platform technology that detects cognitive change before symptoms manifest. Our first product, DCTclockTM, is the most sensitive test available for objective, reliable, and quantified measurement of cognitive function. The test was developed over the course of 10 years at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center and MIT, combining artificial intelligence technology and clinical expertise with normative data from the Framingham Heart Study to unlock robust measures of brain function from natural drawing behavior. Potential uses are to screen for cognitive impairment, monitor cognitive health over time, and track change in cognitive function in response to treatment. It is non-invasive, inexpensive, takes less than 2 minutes to perform, provides instant results, and takes up less counter space than a smartphone.
Today’s clinical standard for cognitive assessment has remained the same for decades. Pen and paper or tablet-based test batteries are time consuming, dependent on clinician observation and subjective scoring, have inherent bias, and are insensitive to mild impairment. DCT utilizes a digital platform with advanced analytics and precise measurements of the entire test-taking process and output for deep insights into cognitive state.
Earlier detection of decline enables earlier treatment for diseases like Alzheimer’s; delaying the progression of decline by even a few years can have enormous social and economic value. Early detection likewise enables new opportunities for novel treatment therapies. Sensitive detection of change also enables monitoring of improvement in response to therapy.
Billions have been spent on cognitive impairment research, treatment, and care. We should not be using subjective tests in a digital age. DCT is poised to make a significant impact in the healthcare community both in the US and abroad.
By 2050, the cost of Alzheimer’s patients will pass $1T/year in the US. The economic and social cost of Dementia both in the US and abroad is set to bankrupt healthcare systems and is truly an epidemic. Development of effective therapeutics and patient care depend upon early detection.
State of the art cognitive tests are neither sensitive at early stages nor scalable. They require extensively trained personnel, take hours to administer, are scored in part using subjective criteria causing reliability problems, and are so insensitive that subjects must score in the bottom 7th percentile to be considered mildly impaired.
Why our solution will solve the problem:
We have 4 journal papers and 11 conference papers/presentations at major neurological and artificial intelligence conferences describing our work. One major study showed that our test significantly outperformed seven of the current state-of-the-art testing methods in use today, and was awarded the 2016 IAAA/INFORMS prize. A recent result presented at AAIC 2017 showed that we can distinguish groups of ApoE4 positive subjects (i.e., those carrying a genetic signature suggesting susceptibility to Alzheimer’s) from those who are negative, even though subjects in both groups were judged to be cognitively healthy.
Our target outcomes:
Cognitive function is not routinely checked until symptoms manifest, by which point it’s too late for effective intervention. Our solution enables cognitive function to be measured as easily as blood pressure and temperature, turning cognition into a vital sign to be routinely monitored, with similar impact in terms of detecting problems while they are still early.
Our solution enables development of new treatments to improve neurocognitive function by making it easier to find targets for early intervention. It will also promote cognitive health, patient care, and caregiver support.
Practical administration and culture neutrality will facilitate global collaborative research and care.
How we will measure our progress:
The populations we will benefit initially:
The regions we will benefit initially:
The technologies we employ:
Why our solution is unique:
DCT’s core insight is that very subtle characteristics of motion are informative about cognitive status. This is innovative in a field that waits for the patient (or family) to present a complaint about cognitive function, and then measures errors on tests rather than calibrating performance even when answers are correct.
We are also innovative in our use of machine learning technology, the use of the digitizing pen as a motion capture device, and the application of clinician-interpretable algorithms to detect impairment earlier, faster, and at far less cost than existing techniques.
Why our solution is human-centered:
Our solution is designed to enable front-line health workers to assess patients quickly, saving time and effort. We empower them to maximize the use of their time with individual patients rather than spend time on testing processes. Our test is inexpensive, easily used in low-income settings and with individuals with little or no familiarity with technology. Given the simplicity of the platform, it is easily employed anywhere pen and paper are usable.
How people will access our solution:
Primary target markets include Primary Care Physicians (PCPs) and Pharmaceutical Companies as a vehicle for delivering rapid assessment of cognitive function and for development of effective therapeutics. In the PCP market, the test is familiar, affordable, and reimbursable, encouraging adoption. One pen is easily shared in a clinic. In the pharma market, the test provides immense value at a reasonable cost, potentially leading to a new objective and sensitive outcome measure. In large research uses, numerous patients can be tested in the field (one pen can store hundreds of tests), then uploaded later.
Technology-Readiness Level:6-8 (Demonstration)
How we will sustain our team financially:
DCT has completed two rounds of financing and is actively raising its series B round. With this next round of funding, we expect to achieve FDA clearance for DCTclock which will allow us to sell into the clinical market. Cognitive assessment is a reimbursable event with established codes and the clinical market presents a significant opportunity for revenue once FDA clearance is achieved. Additionally, revenue from pharmaceutical projects has already been recognized and access to this market is expected to increase significantly after FDA clearance. Grants and other non-dilutive capital will also be pursued.
How long we have been working on our solution:5+ years
How long it will take to develop a pilot:We have already developed a pilot.
How long it will take to scale beyond our pilot:6-12 months
We're looking for partners in these fields:
Why we're applying to Solve:
We believe we have a truly innovative approach to cognitive assessment that, for the first time, will provide a practical tool for the objective testing of cognitive function for use in PCP settings. While our science is solid and our solution has myriad benefits and applications, all is for nought if we cannot successfully penetrate the marketplace and get it in the hands of those who can use it. Solve is an incredible resource not only for networking, but for guidance in bringing our product to market and effectively scaling for global use. We appreciate and value this incredible opportunity.
Our current partners:
We are partnering with two major pharmaceutical companies and several academic research institutions who are using our solution in clinical research.
- Nancy Briefs President & CEO, Digital Cognition Technologies
- Allison Byers Senior Vice President, Digital Cognition Technologies, Inc.
- Randall Davis Co-Founder, DCTclock
- Dr. Antonia Holway Senior Vice President, Digital Cognition Technologies
- Dr. Dana Penney Founder & CMO, Digital Cognition Technologies