• News
  • November 5th, 2010

Medicare’s New Annual Wellness Visit Promotes Cognitive Screening

In what is both breaking and outstanding news for the future of Alzheimer’s disease, Medicare has announced that, beginning January 1, 2011, all beneficiaries must be screened for cognitive impairment as part of their annual wellness visit, another component that will now be mandatory for Medicare beneficiaries.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued final regulations for implementation of an important provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which will include for the first time an annual wellness benefit for all Medicare beneficiaries beginning January 2011. This Medicare preventive service benefit is significant for the growing number of baby boomers who will soon be reaching the age of Medicare eligibility. It is also particularly important to the Alzheimer’s Association and the more than 5 million Americans it represents because an assessment for the detection of cognitive impairment will be a mandatory part of this annual wellness visit.

Medinteract has long been an advocate for the critical need for regular and early warning screening for Alzheimer’s and dementia. In July, 2010 Medicare began reimbursing physicians for using the Computerized Self Test for cognitive impairment screening in their offices, for those patients presenting with memory concerns. As part of the new regulation it appears that Medicare will not only reimburse for screening of each beneficiary annually, but will require this (or similar) test be performed by their physician.

The Computerized Self Test (CST), a groundbreaking online screen for Alzheimer’s disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), is one of the only tests available today which screens all six of the cognitive domains, something we now know to be critical for understanding ones level of cognition. With over 98% accuracy (clinical trials to date) the CST distinguishes between impaired and non-impaired persons. The CST also provides a level of cognitive detail the primary care physicians (PCP) have not had available from other tests. Using the CST’s computer-generated results, the PCP can now assess exactly which cognitive domain(s) show impairment, as well as severity of the impairment. Patients can be quickly and accurately categorized according to one of 5 groups: normal, MCI, mild, moderate or severe AD.

Armed with this level of detail the PCP can offer an individualized plan of care to each patient, based on their unique level of cognitive function, and upon retest, can accurately assess the efficacy of the existing treatment and adjust interventions, as necessary. This is a tremendous step forward in changing the face of Alzheimer’s disease, a move Medinteract hopes will radically reduce the estimated 60% of persons with Alzheimer’s who are currently going undiagnosed in the primary care setting, during a pivotal time when existing treatments are most effective.

For more information on the CST, please read our validation study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in April, 2010. For questions or information on integrating the CST into your medical practice please contact us.



Leave a Reply