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HealthPartners Institute receives federal funds to expand research on unique model of care for people with dementia and their caregivers

$1.1M from National Institute on Aging will fund the Care Ecosystem, a highly coordinated model of dementia care offered at HealthPartners, as well as research to help assess its effectiveness

September 26, 2022

Bloomington, Minn. – HealthPartners Institute’s Neuroscience Research Center recently received $1.1 million for its part in a nationwide research project that will continue to assess the effectiveness of a promising model for dementia care.

The model is called the Care Ecosystem. It’s a telephone and web-based approach that uses care navigators to help patients with dementia and their caregivers navigate their care and connect with community resources, like food delivery services, financial assistance and more.

“Dementia is one of those chronic conditions that requires a lot of resources to manage. But coordinating those resources when you or a loved one is experiencing the disease can be extremely challenging,” said Michael Rosenbloom, MD, director of the HealthPartners Center for Memory and Aging. “By integrating a navigator into a patient’s care, we can better marshal all the necessary resources to support our patients. These navigators are as important as any drug that I prescribe.”

Care Ecosystem: How it works

When a physician sees a patient with dementia experiencing psychosocial issues, they immediately engage a care navigator. The care navigator will identify services and resources that will supplement the medical care they’re receiving. The navigator will routinely connect with the patient-caregiver pair via phone and medical messaging to discuss care regimen and other needs.

HealthPartners has been offering the Care Ecosystem model of care since 2018. Its research found that while dementia progressed among patients enrolled in the Care Ecosystem, caregivers’ mood and wellbeing remained stable and did not deteriorate.

With the latest grant, HealthPartners researchers will study whether this model of care reduces emergency department utilization, memory care utilization, and disease progression. It will also study how the model impacts caregiver burnout and mental health. The project will include 3 care navigators who will work with 225 patient-caregiver pairs over the next year.

“This project will help gather data that will improve dementia care in the future,” Rosenbloom said. “And it will provide the evidence for reimbursement which will be necessary if we want to address dementia like we’ve done for diabetes and heart disease.”

About HealthPartners Institute

HealthPartners Institute is part of HealthPartners, the largest consumer governed nonprofit health care organization in the nation with a mission to improve health and well-being in partnership with our members, patients and the community. HealthPartners Institute supports this mission through research and education—advancing care delivery and public health around the globe. The Institute annually conducts more than 350 research studies and trains 700+ medical residents and fellows and 1,200+ medical and advanced practice students. Its integration with HealthPartners’ hospitals, clinics and health plan strengthens the Institute’s ability to discover and develop evidence-based solutions and translate them into practice. Visit for more information.

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