Nov 15, 2017
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Because no drug has thus far been shown to reverse established Alzheimer's dementia, halting progression in early stages of the disease is the most likely pathway for treatment. There is hope that one or more drug therapies, including infused drugs, may become available by 2020. At that point, a complex patient journey will start —sending those over the age of 55 on a four-part path, involving various specialists with multiple appointments at different facilities, to:
Ideally, this process would happen as quickly as possible to prevent progression, but is the U.S. health care system ready? Projections based on a simulation model developed by RAND researchers suggest otherwise.
A deluge of patients will arrive at the doors of limited-capacity centers — first screening and dementia specialist offices, then testing facilities, and, finally, treatment centers.
Patients could face more than a 14-month wait for their first appointment with a specialist
At the peak of demand, waits for amyloid testing could exceed 11 months
By 2020, 33 million infusions might be needed
It could take more than a dozen years to clear the backlog of cases
Failure to increase capacity means that as many as 2.1 million patients might develop Alzheimer's dementia while waiting for evaluation and treatment between 2020 and 2040
Excerpted from Assessing the Preparedness of the U.S. Health Care System Infrastructure for an Alzheimer's Treatment, by Jodi L. Liu, Jakub P. Hlavka, Richard Hillestad, and Soeren Mattke, RAND Corporation, RR-2272-BIOG, 2017 (available at www.rand.org/t/RR2272.
The RAND Corporation is a research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges to help make communities throughout the world safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous. RAND is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and committed to the public interest.
To view this infographic online, visit www.rand.org/t/IG138.
Images: Kamaga/GettyImages and the Noun Project