Surrey GP practices are rolling out an iPad-based patient memory assessment system to quickly spot signs of dementia.

The Guildford and Waverley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is promoting the use of the CANTABmobile system to help improve dementia diagnosis rates.

CANTABmobile enables GPs to test a patient's episodic memory through an easy to use ten-minute cognitive assessment. Of the 21 GP practices in the Guildford and Waverley region, 19 have been provided with iPads and the software to assess patients who have concerns about their memory loss.

The app is based on tests that have previously only been available to pharmaceutical companies and academia for specialist trials and research. The CANTABmobile medical software has been developed by Cambridge Cognition, a British developer of neuropsychological tests born out of research at Cambridge University.

Whilst memory loss is one of the most important factors for diagnosing dementia, until now automated testing methods have not been available to GPs to detect early memory loss or mild cognitive impairment.

"CANTABmobile gives our GPs a more sophisticated and accurate early level of dementia assessment. This technology is particularly beneficial for identifying those patients with subtle memory loss that can be indicative of dementia, which can be very difficult to diagnose through traditional pen and paper cognitive assessments," said GP Jonathan Inglesfield, medical director and mental health lead for Guildford and Waverley CCG.

Over 60 GP clinical commissioning groups around the UK are now trialling the software.

The CCG in Surrey used funding from the prime minister's "Dementia Challenge" to support the implementation of the CANTABmobile system.

The Dementia Challenge aims to tackle the problem of less than half of the estimated 800,000 NHS patients with dementia having an actual diagnosis. The government aims to achieve a diagnosis rate of 80 percent.

The CANTABmobile technology is based on assessment technology validated in 175 peer-reviewed publications, and which is used around the world in academic research and by the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries.