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A five-minute cognitive assessment test and an electronic medical record (EMR) decision-making add-on system improved dementia diagnosis and care, according to a clinical trial.

Researchers assessed the 5-Cog test and EMR tool in 1,201 older adults who came to primary care doctors with cognitive concerns, according to the article published Tuesday in Nature Medicine.

Participants were 72.8 years old, on average. Of them, 72% were women and 94% were Black, Hispanic or Latino. About half of the people had 5-Cog, while the rest of the participants only had standard care.

5-Cog consists of three metrics designed to test memory recall, the connection between cognition and gait, and the ability to match symbols to images. The tests are fairly simple to perform, they don’t take much time, and reading level or cultural differences don’t impede the test from being performed.

Participants who tried 5-Cog underwent the cognitive impairment tests and then saw their doctors. The doctors used the electronic medical record tool to determine the participants’ follow-up care. 

Using the 5-Cog system improved the odds three-fold that a patient would receive dementia-related care compared to standard care. Dementia-related care included a new diagnosis of dementia or mild cognitive impairment, as well as further assessments, medications, or specialist referrals within 90 days. 

Of the 63 patients diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia as part of the 5-Cog tool, 89% received the diagnosis on the day of the visit, six received a diagnosis by day 30 and one person was diagnosed within 60 days. Of the 12 participants who didn’t undergo the 5-Cog protocol who were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or dementia, 92% received the diagnosis on the day of the visit and one was diagnosed within 30 days. 

Individual dementia care actions were much higher in the 5-Cog arm except for new prescriptions, the data showed.

This story originally appeared in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.