Smartphone app to detect kidney disease

PATIENTS with diabetes and high blood pressure will be able to test for kidney disease at home and send results to their GP using a smartphone app.

Over the next three years, half a million patients will be invited to take part in the initiative run by NHSX, the digital transformation arm of the NHS. So far, more than 3,500 people have signed up.

Those who take part are sent simple home testing kits and given access to an app that NHSX says "turns smartphone cameras into medical devices". The equipment allows them to test, scan and transmit results to their GP within minutes, without leaving their home.

The move is designed to reduce unnecessary GP and hospital trips for those affected by chronic kidney disease – currently around one in 10 people in the UK. It is hoped that thousands of lives can be saved each year through early detection.

In a project at Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, clinical teams noted a significant increase in testing rates amongst patients with type 1 diabetes. By allowing people to self-test at home, the testing rate rose from 0 per cent to 79 per cent among the consented untested population. Almost one in five were found to have abnormal or highly abnormal results.

NHSX chief executive Matthew Gold said there was enormous potential benefits to the NHS from using artificial intelligence in this way.

"The use of this latest testing technology is another huge step forward enabling us to provide earlier diagnosis of disease and improve patient care and treatment outcomes while also freeing up NHS staff,” he said.