A simple test developed by tech company Healthy.Io is helping thousands of people living with diabetes to identify the early signs of chronic kidney disease.

The Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) has been working with Healthy.Io to support the roll-out of Minuteful kidney, a smartphone-based urine analysis device which enables home urine testing with no quality compromise.

To ensure they stay healthy and their condition is well managed, people living with diabetes should complete eight “care processes” each year as part of their annual diabetes review. Diabetes as a condition makes them vulnerable to complications, like the risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD), yet the annual diabetes audit still shows that the care process with the lowest uptake is the urinary albumin test. The test measures the albumin to creatinine ratio (ACR) and is used to monitor kidney health. This low uptake means CKD can be missed until it becomes symptomatic and much more serious for people’s health.

Talking about the device, Dr Sab Gogna, Clinical Director and GP at Fountain Medical Centre in Leeds, said: "Setting up home urinary ACR testing in our practice has been incredibly simple and easy. We had great support to get it up and running from Healthy.io.

“So far, it has allowed us to engage with harder to reach patients and overall has really increased uptake of ACR testing, quickly identifying people who are at risk so we can follow-up. Using the service has meant we can focus on maintaining kidney care even during these difficult times for primary care. The need for follow up is key and does require practices to have a system in place to facilitate this in order to action any abnormal results which enables clinical evaluation and better care for the most at-risk patients".

So far, 11 practices in Leeds have implemented the service with 1,500 patients agreeing to be sent the test. Of these, 1,317 have completed the test successfully from home.

Neville Young, Director of Enterprise and Innovation at the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, added: “Innovations like the one developed by Healthy.Io are critical to help improve patient outcomes and also address health inequalities by looking at ways to engage with hard-to-reach communities and ensure they receive the care they need, especially now that people are more concerned about accessing clinical settings. We can’t do this work without engaging with equally innovative GPs and others working in the care sector at this incredibly busy time and we thanks Sab and the team at Fountain Medical Centre for stepping up to help improve the delivery of care to these patients.

“Over the last year we have worked incredibly hard to adapt our services to ensure that, whatever the challenges, we are uniquely placed to support the
needs of our partners. Our work with Healthy.io is a perfect example of how working with industry, we have made a significant contribution to the pace and scale at which innovation has been adopted by our health and care systems in response to the pandemic. It also highlights the importance of working with companies like this and the NHS to help identify and scale up innovations that can make a real difference to patient care”.