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.

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.

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

“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 per cent of residents are of South Asian heritage and who are more at risk of both diabetes and kidney disease.

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“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.”

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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.


“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," said Dr Osman Bhatti, community health services and continuing care lead for the Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group.

As soon as I get comfy in bed, I need the loo. When should I have my last drink before hitting the sack?

It can take an hour or more for a glass of water to make its way down to your bladder, so you might want to cut out drinks an hour before bedtime. The strong urge you feel when you lie down is because your organs shift around and press on whatever is already in your bladder.

Also, the worry that you might not be able to get to sleep until you’ve been to the loo tends to focus your attention and amplify the sensation. If you do need to get up for a pee, then rest assured that it’ll probably be your last of the night – the sleeping body automatically downregulates the production of urine to keep you hydrated.

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Sara RigbyOnline staff writer, BBC Science Focus

Sara is the online staff writer at BBC Science Focus. She has an MPhys in mathematical physics and loves all things space, dinosaurs and dogs.