Telemedicine can be defined as the delivery of healthcare services to distal locations by electronic connectivity. In recent years, telemedicine has expanded to include a wide range of remotely delivered services, including vital signs monitoring, medication management, """"""""telepsychiatry"""""""" and others. The increasing utilization of telemedicine is driven by cost and, for distal (""""""""underserved"""""""") regions, a lack of professionals to deliver otherwise unavailable services. This proposal aims to develop a computerized assessment system capable of providing remote, audio-video-based administration of a wide range of commonly applied cognitive test instruments as well as behavioral-psychiatric measures (BPMs), in a similar manner as if the examiner were sitting face-to-face with the subject being evaluated. The proposed Computerized Assessment by Remote Examiner System (CARES) will enable qualified clinicians to remotely conduct thorough neuropsychological or psychiatric evaluations of research subjects or patients with a range of acquired brain disorders for which such assessments are routinely applied, including: traumatic brain injury, stroke, brain tumor, neurotoxicologicalinsult,HIV-relatedencephalopathy,schizophrenia,and Alzheimer's disease. Remote locations broadly include clinical evaluation units at hospitals, managed care facilities, group practice sites, nursing homes, correctional facilities, regional health clinics, and in patient's homes, in both rural and metropolitan areas. The CARES will implement a fundamentally new approach in which a remote examiner views a full-screen, application-specific GUI that provides on- screen controls that will enable an examiner to: control the pace of the test session, repeat and supplement computerized instructions, immediately score verbal report or overt behavior in real time, and pause or terminate a test. Thus, the CARES is well suited for application in impaired populations that commonly require ongoing monitoring and supplemental instruction. Significantly, the CARES is a technological extension of a previously validated, dual-display, computerized assessment system in which the subject is physically accompanied by a human examiner. The GUI for this antecedent system will be adapted to host a high-resolution televideo window that permits an examiner and patient to see and talk to each other, establishing high-quality """"""""telepresence"""""""", which is especially important for the administration of tests or BPMs involving subjective impressions or judgement of overt behavior. Accordingly, the CARES approach contrasts sharply with available, web-based assessments that are not only unaccompanied by an examiner, but suffer from rigid administration procedures, as well as multiple technical shortcomings, that significantly limit the range of test instruments that can be reliably administered to impaired individuals. In Phase II, the main objectives are to: 1) develop an application- optimized, standardized, mobile CARES Hardware Platform (CHP) with integrated peripheral devices and software utilities;and 2)compare the concurrent validity, test-retest reliability, and user acceptability of accompanied computerized testing vs. remote computerized testing. The CARES will be the first system of its kind and will likely find immediate commercial application across a range of healthcare delivery networks, research settings, and controlled clinical trials.
The Computerized Assessment by Remote Examiner System (CARES) is a unique and highly innovative technology intended to facilitate televideo-based neuropsychological and psychiatric evaluation services in areas that are currently """"""""underserved"""""""" due to either geographic or economic obstacles that limit access to properly trained professionals who provide such services. Among these underserved populations are individuals living in rural areas or remote regions such as Indian reservations, individuals incarcerated in correctional facilities, and a variety of """"""""homebound"""""""" individuals such as non-ambulatory patients or residents of nursing homes. The need to provide otherwise unavailable mental health services to these patients is a pressing disparity that the current project hopes to address.