(SAN FRANCISCO, CA) Just ten hours of the right brain fitness exercises can have a significant and long lasting impact on healthcare costs and outcomes, according to a study recently published in BMC Health Services Research, a leading peer-reviewed health services journal.
Researchers found that participants who did just ten hours of special computerized brain exercises had better health outcomes, lowering projected Medicare costs by hundreds of dollars per year. As the number of Medicare enrollees grows from 44 million to 61 million over the next ten years, this represents more than $100 billion in potential savings.
The report is part of a multi-site trial funded by the National Institutes of Health and known as the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) study. There were 2,802 healthy adults, aged 65 and older, enrolled in the study. The participants were divided into three intervention groups and a no contact control group. The intervention groups received classroom training in reasoning or memory strategies or took part in computerized brain fitness exercises. Each intervention was based on a total of ten hours of training over one initial six-week period. Participants have been followed for more than five years.
The ACTIVE study team previously reported that participants who performed the computerized brain exercises had significantly improved health outcomes, as measured by a widely used instrument assessing health-related quality of life, known as the SF-36. In this report, researchers used a model recently developed by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to predict healthcare costs, based on massive correlation of actual healthcare costs to SF-36 scores.
The researchers found that a year following training with the brain fitness software, now owned and marketed by Posit Science Corporation, participants predicted healthcare costs that were $244 less per patient than in the control group, after adjustment for differences in the groups (or $223 on an unadjusted basis.) The differences between the groups were statistically significant and only the group using the Posit Science® software showed significant savings. “Our results have important health policy relevance,” said Frederic Wolinsky, PhD, of the University of Iowa who was lead author on the article. “The reduced costs were equal to about three-to-four percent of annual healthcare costs for Medicare patients at the time of the study.”
Even five years later, with no further training, trend data indicated that those patients had lower predicted healthcare costs by about $143 less per year (or $128 on an unadjusted basis.)
“This data indicates that we can have better health outcomes at significantly lower costs,” said Henry Mahncke, PhD, vice president of Research at Posit Science. “It also suggests that ongoing brain fitness training benefits not just the individual, but the entire healthcare system.”