With the search for Alzheimer’s drugs foundering, tech firms try to offer solutions

NewSpring Healthcare

This article was first published by STAT.

LAS VEGAS — The drug industry’s foundering search for an Alzheimer’s cure is fueling a parallel quest by technology companies to help patients and family caregivers cope with the disease by using virtual reality software, robotics, and novel communication tools.

Several companies engaged in the effort gathered here on Wednesday to deliver a unified message: Waiting for pharma to deliver a miracle is a recipe for financial Armageddon, as the cost of treating Alzheimer’s is expected to quadruple, to more than $1 trillion in the U.S. by 2030, if no breakthrough treatments reach the market.

The solution is not simply developing tools to manage patient symptoms, but to deliver better support to family caregivers who are collectively spending more than $500 billion annually to care for elderly relatives.

“If we do not support the role of family caregivers and value them in this process, there is nothing we can do to bend the cost curve beyond what we’re doing,” said Thomas Riley, chief executive of Seniorlink, which developed a digital communication platform to help coordinate care for Alzheimer’s patients.