Marrying the old technology of the dipstick with the new technology of the smartphone was Healthy.io’s ‘smartest decision’ says Yonatan Adiri, Chief Executive of the fast-growing health tech company.
“It’s not so much magic as very, very strong, rigorous computer vision that knows how to turn this into a scanner.”
Healthy.io created technology able to monitor remotely a range of medical issues such as renal disease, pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, and to provide urinalysis for early detection of kidney disease. It uses the new technology of a smartphone app to scan and analyse the tried and tested dipstick.
And now that same smart thinking has seen Healthy.io providing remote screening and monitoring as part of the fight against COVID-19. Hospital trusts have turned to the app and kit Dip.io to keep highly susceptible renal patients out of hospital and away from the risk of COVID-19 infection.
Additionally, people at risk of chronic kidney disease, such as those with hypertension, can now use their smartphones at home to complete their annual urine test, which is far more appealing than having to drop off a urine sample and ensures that early signs of complications can be identified and treated. This further supports the move to offer more outpatient appointments via remote consultations to avoid hospital visits.
Patients are given a home test kit and install the app (either ACR or Dip.io) to test urine samples accurately, with their results automatically shared with their clinical team. Healthy.io works hard to make the application very easy to use, and the team also created a virtual nurse, Emily, who helps patients through the process step by step.
The application is currently used in 11 NHS areas, and Healthy.io also retails urinalysis kits in more than 1,600 retail pharmacies across the UK, which allows women to test for urinary tract infections at home and to obtain antibiotics if necessary.
The company recently introduced a digital wound management tool, where patients can be assessed remotely, and treatment plans can be agreed amongst care teams. Sharing the wound assessment data can rationalise the visits needed, thus managing the risks to the patient and the nursing team in visits to clinics or by community nurses, and ensuring optimal use of resources.
As an AHSN, we first became aware of Healthy.io when Dip.io was added to the NHS Innovation Accelerator in 2017. We were impressed by the product’s usability, and its ability to transform care for patients who needed regular urinalysis. So we worked with Healthy.io to help the company build up the evidence that demonstrated how it could save the NHS costs.
Having seen Dip.io used in the region to detect albuminuria in people with diabetes, we commissioned York Health Economic Consortium (YHEC) to evaluate the innovation’s cost-effectiveness compared to standard care in the NHS. Diabetes is one of the most common risk factors for Chronic Kidney Disease, or CKD. Detecting albumin in urine as early as possible helps prevent CKD complications and slows the progression of the disease.
Pleasingly, our evaluation showed that patients improved their compliance with the tests and an 11% increase in the number of CKD diagnoses, which will significantly improve patient outcomes and deliver significant savings.
Our evaluation demonstrated positive results for patients and the NHS; people who had previously missed the urinary ACR test successfully performed the test from home, with 11% of people identified with albumin in the urine who would previously have gone undetected.
As a result, YHEC’s analysis found that if kits were provided to people at risk of CKD (those with diabetes and hypertension) who had not completed their annual ACR, it could save the health service £660m over five years by detecting conditions before they need more expensive treatment.
Our health economic evaluation also shows that Dip.io has the potential to improve people’s health, save lives, reduce the burden on primary care, and offer value for money to the NHS.
We are continuing to support Healthy.io in raising awareness of the innovation across the region and the UK.