MATTER Member Profile: Dr. Anitha Rao of Neurocern
Posted April 6 by Devon Leichtman
A new case of dementia is diagnosed every four seconds, according to the World Health Organization. There are 47 million people living with dementia worldwide and this number is expected to triple by 2050 as advances in medicine enable longer life. Therapeutic options for dementia are extremely limited, and as dementia’s influence on an aging population grows, existing treatments will increasingly fail more patients. Enter Dr. Anitha Rao.
Dr. Rao is a board-certified dementia neurologist and one of 1,000 physicians in the world with specialized training in dementia and geriatric neurology. She has witnessed countless patients and families struggle to make sense of cognitive symptoms and find a care plan suited to their unique brain profile and diagnosis. “Dementia is the new obesity,” says Dr. Rao, in that it exacerbates other conditions leading to worse outcomes and financial strain on the healthcare industry.
“[Dementia] is the elephant in the room,” Dr. Rao continues. “Healthcare decision-makers think dementia is just dementia and don’t understand the large-scale economic costs of misdiagnosis and a one-size fits all approach,” she says. To effectively manage dementia, providers and caretakers must keep track of each patient’s symptoms, risk factors for hospitalization, , medications, and more. This requires both specialized training and hours of meticulous record-keeping. Dr. Rao saw the lack of analytical tools to track and treat dementia as an opportunity to both alleviate real pain and fill a need in the healthcare market.
So she created Neurocern, a comprehensive dementia population health analytics application. It utilizes predictive and prescriptive clinical algorithms to recreate the diagnosis process and provide person-centered care management advice. Dr. Rao and her co-founder are looking to raise a round of capital and are in late-stage discussions with potential customers in the ACO and payer markets.
Because of her work with Neurocern and neurology expertise, Dr. Rao is often tapped to sit on neurology panels and boards, where she realized she was typically the only woman participating. “It gives me the fuel to my fire when I’m the only woman on a men-only panel, and that happens a lot,” says Dr. Rao. She now speaks at events and conferences to promote opportunities for women in STEM fields.
For more on Dr. Rao or to connect with her directly, see her LinkedIn page.