Two-Thirds Of GPs Want To Prescribe Tech For Patients Diagnosed With Dementia

A poll of GPs in the UK has shown primary care doctors want to prescribe assistive technologies to patients diagnosed with dementia.

More than two-thirds (67%) of GPs in the UK would like to be able to prescribe assistive technologies to their patients when they are diagnosed with dementia, suggests new research.

The nationally representative poll of GPs was conducted by the Longitude Prize on Dementia, which is funded by Alzheimer’s Society and Innovate UK, and delivered by Challenge Works.

It sought to better understand appetite amongst primary care doctors for the use of technology in helping people and families affected by dementia.

Other findings from the GP poll include:

  • 88% believe that people living with dementia who can live in their own homes will live more fulfilling lives.
  • 77% believe that people living with dementia will live longer if they can remain in their own homes.
  • 87% believe the majority of their patients with early-stage dementia would benefit from technology that was designed for their condition.
  • Assistive technologies for patients affected by dementia
  • 76% of GPs surveyed worry that their patients may become trapped in their own homes because of anxiety and fear about getting lost.

Many of the GPs polled believe their patients would benefit from responsive tech such as an intuitive app to help them navigate their community, tech that reminds people to take medications, or smart glasses that could tell them who they are looking at.

Challenging the outdated stereotype that older people are tech-averse, half (49%) of GPs also say that the majority of their early-stage dementia patients use technology in their everyday lives.

Many GPs are already advising their dementia patients to use existing technology to manage their conditions, with 64% of family doctors recommending tech-related hacks. These could include adding simple reminders to take medications on phones and smart speakers.

The findings also highlight the need for innovators to consider the progressive nature of dementia in the design of new assistive technologies so that they adapt to the person’s changing condition. 84% say that technologies supposedly designed for all (like phones, tablets and TVs) are not designed with patients living with dementia in mind.

Dame Louise Robinson, GP and Professor of Primary Care and Ageing, Newcastle University said: “Technology, especially if it is used as part of a package of person-centred support, can help people with dementia live at home longer, which is the ultimate goal.”

Kate Lee, CEO of Alzheimer’s Society stated: “It’s exciting that soon we may have potential new treatments that could slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease, but alongside this we need to urgently push forward ways of helping people with dementia right now.

We believe tech involving people with dementia, for people with dementia, can be a key way of doing this.