Urinary tract infections are a common health issue and account for nearly 10 million doctor visits a year in the U.K.
Through a new agreement with Walgreens Boots Alliance, a smartphone-based UTI testing kit from Tel Aviv-based Healthy.io is being rolled out in hundreds of pharmacies in the U.K. with the aim to reduce physician visits.
UTIs are the most common bacterial infections in humans. Research suggests that at least 40 to 60% of women develop a UTI during their lifetime, according to the National Institutes of Health. The infections account for millions of physician visits and ER visits in the U.S. each year.
“By partnering with Boots pharmacies, we’re giving women across the U.K. a new option to quickly and easily test and receive treatment for UTIs, without the need to visit a clinic,” Yonatan Adiri, founder and CEO of Healthy.io, said in a statement. “This partnership, and others like it in the future, will turn community pharmacies into a point of care and, by doing so, expand access to clinical-grade tests while improving health outcomes and lowering costs.”
Healthy.io officials say they have the only smartphone-based urinalysis cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European regulators as equivalent to lab-based testing. The U.K. rollout could lay the groundwork for the launch of the technology in the U.S. market. Healthy.io has done studies with Geisinger and Johns Hopkins University and plans to expand its pilot studies in the U.S.
Healthy.io said it built the product around the established urinalysis dipstick and uses the smartphone camera as a clinical-grade medical device.
Healthy.io also is launching a pilot with the NHS England and East Midlands Academic Health Science Network to examine how a home-based UTI testing kit can reduce the need for clinician visits. evaluate how the smartphone-based test can help provide women with quicker relief from symptoms, reduce complications due to delayed treatment, and prevent the overprescription of antibiotics. In addition, it will examine to what extent the Dip UTI test reduces the workload for local primary care practices.
“Our aim as an organization is to identify, test, and spread innovations in health which improve outcomes and experiences for patients and save the NHS money,” Tim Robinson, commercial director at East Midlands Academic Health Science Network said in a statement. “By supporting this technology-enabled pathway, we hope to provide patients with quicker and easier access to UTI treatment and reduce general practitioner appointments.”
In a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that Healthy.io’s prenatal testing was effective and largely preferred by pregnant women. Two-thirds of the women in the study said they preferred at-home self-testing as compared to just 10% who preferred conventional testing at a medical clinic.
Healthy.io's smartphone-based tests measure 10 parameters, indicating a range of infections, chronic illnesses like chronic kidney disease and pregnancy-related complications.
A study by Geisinger Health and the National Kidney Foundation found a 71% test completion rate among a population of previously non-compliant patients with hypertension being tested for chronic kidney disease.
Modality Partnership, a large primary care practice in York, England, also used the tests with patients with diabetes who had previously not completed a chronic kidney disease screening. Of those patients who completed the screening, 10% had previously undiagnosed chronic kidney disease.