Smartphone app and home urine test could help early detection of kidney disease

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A smartphone app designed to make home urine tests for kidney disease and diabetes easier and spot signs of illness earlier is being evaluated by a London university.

The kit, developed by tech firm healthy.io, uses an app to guide users through taking a home urine test before quickly sharing the results with the patient’s GP.

The test itself can detect abnormal protein levels in the urine, which can be used to identify those at risk of worsening kidney problems, and involves a dipstick which changes colour in the urine to show whether levels of protein are abnormal before users take a photo of the dipstick in the app, which is used to analyse their condition.

I am delighted that East London GP practices are working with LSBU on this innovative project

The viability of the system is currently being evaluated by experts at London South Bank University’s (LSBU) School of Health and Social Care.

A feasibility study is being conducted in partnership with Tower Hamlets’ Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in East London.

Professor Nicola Thomas, head of LSBU’s research team and professor of kidney care, said: “Around 30 per cent of people with diabetes have some degree of kidney damage.

“A national audit previously showed that the urine testing rate for those with diabetes in the UK is only 68 per cent but with a large variation. These detection rates are relatively low and in need of improvement.

“We have taken the initial step of rolling out the phone app in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, where 40% of residents are of South Asian heritage and who are more at risk of both diabetes and kidney disease.

“If this study proves feasible in Tower Hamlets, we will review the results together with the local Clinical Commissioning Group with a view to rolling it out across other UK boroughs.”

The smartphone app uses audio instructions to walk patients through how to take the test as part of efforts to make the process more accessible.

Dr Osman Bhatti, community health services and continuing care lead for the Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “I am delighted that East London GP practices are working with LSBU on this innovative project which will save time, improve patient experience and most importantly, identify people who are at risk of progressive kidney disease.”

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