New Smartphone app for home urine testing aids early detection of kidney disease

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Researchers at London South Bank University’s (LSBU) School of Health and Social Care, are evaluating a new kit that uses smartphone technology to enable people with diabetes and kidney disease to test their urine at home and save a trip to their doctor’s surgery. The kit, developed by smartphone technology company healthy.io, detects abnormal protein levels in the urine, which in turn can identify people at risk of worsening kidney problems.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) affects one in ten adults in the UK, with an estimated annual cost to the NHS of £1.45 billion, equivalent to 1.3% of total NHS expenditure. In order to identify people at risk of kidney damage, both blood and urine test results are needed.

LSBU’s researchers are conducting the feasibility study in partnership with Tower Hamlets’ Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in East London. Tower Hamlets CCG oversees around 17,000 people living with diabetes in the borough.  

Professor Nicola Thomas, LSBU’s Professor of Kidney Care, who heads up LSBU’s research team, said: “Around 30% 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.”

Dr Osman Bhatti, Community Health Services and Continuing Care Lead, 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.” 

Katherine Ward, Chief Commercial Officer and UK Managing Director of Healthy.io, said:“Chronic kidney disease is a silent killer and has a major impact on society yet very few people are aware of its dangers. If our test can help to prevent people reaching that stage, it will mean a huge cost saving for the NHS and more importantly it will help some people avoid dialysis or transplant.”

Read more about LSBU's support for Health Tech businesses through our SimDH Case Studies. LSBU offer businesses support in multiple ways - small to medium sized digital health enterprises can access this support free from SimDH. This project is not part of the SimDH programme, but utilises the same expertise.