New app offers faster and easier MS assessment

September 10, 2019
Researchers said they developed and validated a tablet-based app that offers a faster, easier, and more accurate way for healthcare providers who don't have specialized training to assess the cognitive function of people with multiple sclerosis. In a study comparing the app to a standard, paper-based assessment tool, researchers said they found the app produced highly accurate results while reducing test time from about 23 to 14 minutes. 

Currently used paper testing tools are time consuming, or must be administered by specially trained psychometrists. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine adapted an internationally validated cognitive assessment tool for MS patients, called the Brief International Cognitive Assessment for Multiple Sclerosis, to a digital tablet format. BICAMS, composed of three subtests, measures processing speed, the ability to learn verbal information, and the ability to learn visual information.

Study participants included 100 adults from the University of Washington Medicine Multiple Sclerosis Center who had a physician-confirmed MS diagnosis. Half of the sessions were led by an administrator who provided the paper test, and the other half of the group received a tablet test. When researchers compared the test scores for each participant, the answers were the same 93 percent of the time, validating the accuracy of the app-based test. Furthermore, the administration and scoring time for the app-based test was 40 percent shorter than the paper version.

The researchers said a tablet-based test saves time, is easier to administer, eliminates the need to store paper-based records, and makes sharing information easier on electronic medical records. The app may also reduce the rate of errors in calculating and transferring scores.

The findings were published the International Journal of MS Care.

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