In another sign that healthcare is homeward bound, two healthcare startups struck a partnership on Wednesday to help deliver at-home diagnostics for patients with cognitive decline.
uMETHOD, which provides precision medicine software to treat cognitive decline that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease, tapped at-home diagnostics provider Getlabs to supply mobile phlebotomies for its patients in Arizona.
Alzheimer’s disease is becoming an increasingly significant public health crisis in Arizona — more than 150,000 Arizonans ages 65 and older live with the disease, and 15-20% of Arizonans ages 60 and older have mild cognitive impairment.
Once patients are diagnosed with cognitive decline, Medicare requires their physicians to identify and address treatable and reversible causes of the condition. There are 60 or 70 of these potentially reversible causes of cognitive decline, so physicians must look at an extensive set of data on each individual patient in order to identify which active causes they may have, uMETHOD CEO Vik Chandra said in an interview.
“We really have to understand where they stand from a biological, medical perspective — and that requires a very broad look at their blood tests results and medical status,” Chandra said. “And so a blood draw is an absolutely critical, essential part of identifying those reversible causes and then being able to address them.”
However, it’s important to remember that most patients with cognitive decline are ages 65 and older. At that age, driving to a blood draw center or arranging a ride there often becomes more of a challenge — one that is further compounded by cognitive decline, according to Chandra.
Kyle Michelson, Getlabs’ founder and CEO, agreed. One of the biggest reasons why cognitive decline patients can’t adhere to their care plans is unfulfilled lab orders, he said in an interview.
By adding Getlabs’ at-home phlebotomy services to its RestoreU care program, uMETHOD is hoping to increase the number of cognitive decline patients who get their blood drawn. The program is designed to minimize a patient’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s and slow the disease’s progression.
Under the program, a physician orders a blood test from Sonora Quest Laboratories — Arizona’s largest diagnostic lab — and a Getlabs mobile phlebotomist administers that blood test to the patient at home. Then, uMETHOD combines the patient’s medical history with the blood test results into its AI-powered platform. The system produces a care plan that goes to the physician, who will use it to decide how to best treat the patient and address their unique causes of cognitive decline.
These personalized care plans include recommendations on things like pharmacological and supplementation-based therapies, any additional diagnostics that may be needed, nutrition gaps that may need to be addressed, and medication management strategies to minimize brain fog and fall risk.
Ensuring that patients have convenient access to phlebotomies is essential, because without these tests, uMETHOD would not have the clinical information necessary to develop their personalized care plan, Chandra pointed out.
When physicians can obtain personalized care plans for patients early on in their stages of cognitive decline, they can address treatable causes sooner and potentially keep patients from losing their independence or having to stay in expensive memory care units, Chandra said.
Photo: Anastasia Usenko, Getty Images