HEALTHY. IO CONDUCTS FIRST LARGE SCALE POPULATION SCREENING FOR CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE THROUGH SMARTPHONE-BASED HEALTH TECHNOLOGY
Healthy.io, the world leader in transforming the smartphone cameras into a clinical-grade medical device, is accelerating its global expansion with the launch of the first large scale population screening study on Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). Combining artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning for colourimetric analysis, and superior user experience (UX) design, expanding access to health care is at the heart of Healthy. io’s global business DNA.
Tackling The Kidney Disease Crisis On a Population Scale
As part of Healthy. io’s global expansion, a ground-breaking population study on screening for kidney damage will start in the Netherlands in partnership with the Dutch Kidney Foundation and the University Medical Center Groningen. The study follows a successful UK rollout and financial evaluation which demonstrated how Healthy.io’ s smartphone-powered at home Albumin to Creatinine Ratio (ACR) test could save thousands of UK lives every year and spare thousands more from renal failure and the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant. It also has the potential to save the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds.
The Albumin to Creatinine Ratio (ACR) provides an early indication of abnormal kidney function. The at-home testing kit and connected app use a clinical-grade in vitro diagnostic method (IVD) as used in laboratory settings for qualitative and semi-quantitative detection of Creatinine and low levels of Albumin (microalbumin) in a urine specimen.
Early detection is key to slowing the progression of CKD but unfortunately often the disease is asymptomatic until it has reached its end stages. That is why at-risk populations such as people with diabetes or hypertension should test their urine on an annual basis. In practice only 30% of hypertensive people and 66% of type 2 diabetics comply to annual testing, leaving approximately one million people in the UK with undiagnosed CKD.
Before taking the test, users download the ACR app by clicking a link inside a text message received from their healthcare provider. The ACR test uses a 2-parameter ACR urine test strip, identical to the one used in a lab. The app guides the user through a simple test.
Once the user completes the test the results are analysed by using the smartphone camera that in practice is transformed into an in-app ACR mobile scanner. When completed, the analysed results are securely and automatically sent to a patient’s clinician and electronic medical record for diagnosis and further care.
In the UK, 2,196 high-risk patients with type 2 diabetes who had not taken their annual kidney function test registered at GP practices in the Modality Partnership in Yorkshire and Humber were offered the opportunity to use the Healthy.io ACR Home Based Urine test. 71.8%, took up the opportunity and one in ten (10%) was subsequently found to have signs of kidney damage.
In fact, experts at York Health Economics Consortium (YHEC) — a health consultancy and research organisation at the University of York — found that based on the Modality findings if the Healthy.io test was used across at-risk patients in the UK that had been non-compliant with previous GP testing, over five years this would:
• Prevent 11,376 cases of end-stage kidney disease
• Identify 276,790 cases of undiagnosed kidney disease
• Save the UK NHS £660 million (£660,000,000)
Following the impressive results of the UK rollout, the Netherlands research initiative is the first global study of its kind to take place. More than 15,000 residents of the municipality of Breda between the ages of 45 and 80 will take part in the research. The aim of the study is to evaluate whether screening provides health benefits for the population. Two screening methods will be used in the study approach.
The first method is the traditional method: people collect their urine at home in a tube. This is sent by post to a central laboratory for measuring protein loss. The other approach uses Healthy.io’ s Albumin to Creatinine Ratio (ACR) smartphone-powered test. With the Healthy.io ACR test, participants measure the level of protein loss in the urine at home using the Healthy.io home test kit and a connected smartphone app. They receive direct feedback in the app. The study is supported by Health-Holland, which supports research and development by public and private partnerships in the Dutch LSH (life sciences and health) sector, and the Dutch Kidney Foundation. A total of 1.7 million Dutch people have chronic kidney damage, but half of them do not know this. If kidney damage is detected in the early stages it can be treated faster and possibly prevent kidney failure. The screening can also detect heart and vascular diseases at an early stage.
Using smartphone technology to provide powerful medical insight is Healthy.io’ s raison d’etre. Its main focus is finding innovative ways to improve and extend access to colour-based medical diagnostics. When the founder set up the company in 2013, Yonatan Adiri’s initial task was to gather a first-class team of like-minded individuals around him who shared not only his passion for technology but also his belief that the camera in a smartphone has the potential to revolutionise healthcare. Healthy.io has 80 employees.
Katherine Ward, Healthy.io’s Chief Commercial Officer and Managing Director for the UK and Europe, has over 26 years’ experience of working in both the public and private healthcare sectors in the UK.
Katherine spent 15 years in the NHS before becoming Chief Executive Officer of United Health UK and latterly Chief Growth Officer for Optum International, a health services company where she led global expansion across 26 countries.
Healthy.io’s headquarters are in Tel Aviv and it also has offices in the UK and US.
 Machine learning is the scientific study of statistical models that computer systems use to perform a specific task without using explicit instructions, relying on patterns and inference instead. It is seen as a subset of artificial intelligence.
 User experience (UX) design is the process design teams use to create products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. This involves the design of the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability and function.