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New iPhone App Allows Consumers to Test Their Urine on the Go for as Many as 25 Different Diseases

Pathologists and clinical laboratory managers may want to learn more about the UCheck mobile app developed by Biosense Technologies  

Developers of a new iPhone application claim their app can analyze a urine specimen for up to 25 different diseases. This mobile app is a deliberate attempt to give consumers the ability to perform diagnostic tests that would normally be run in a full-scale clinical laboratory.

Pathologists and clinical biochemists will want to visit the website of Biosense Technologies to check out this mobile application, which is called uCheck. Biosense is a medical device company located in Mumbai, India.

How A Cell Phone Can Be Used Like a Medical Laboratory Analyzer

Essentially, the uCheck app takes a picture of a urine sample and analyzes it for up to 25 diseases, noted an article published by BBC News. The test kit is priced at $20 and comes with five test sticks and a special mat. The test sticks are dipped into a urine sample and then placed on the mat. The iPhone takes a photo of the color-coded test sticks on the mat. The uChek application analyzes the image and interprets the results.

Biosense Technologies claims that uChek can detect as many as 10 parameters contained in the urine specimen, depending on the test strip used. This includes levels of:

glucose
proteins 
nitrates
ketones
specific gravity
leukocytes 
urobilinogen 

Based on these parameters, the device could detect a range of conditions. These are listed as:

pre-clampsia
diabetes 
certain cancers 
liver problems 
urinary tract infections 

How the uChek App Works to Analyze a Urine Specimen

The uChek mobile application compares the results on the urine-soaked strips with a color-coded map. Using color comparisons as a guide, uChek analyzes the results and, within seconds, returns a breakdown of the different analytes it can detect. This was described in an article published by UPI.com.

uChek is the brainchild of entrepreneur Myshkin Ingawale, 29, a graduate of MIT. He is co-founder of Biosense Technologies and unveiled the app at a TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in February 2013. TED is a conference series that showcases “ideas worth spreading” that will shape the future.

Myshkin-Ingawale

Biosense Technologies founder Myshkin Ingawale unveiled the uChek iPhone application at a TED conference in February. During his presentation, he joked that idea to create a urine test app seemed like a natural fit, since “everyone has a cell phone and everyone pees.” On a more serious note, he said, “There needs to be a rethink in the way healthcare is delivered to people.” (Photo copyright BBC News.)

 

Developer Wants Mobile Apps to Move Bio-chemistry into Mainstream

“There is huge potential to get the world of bio-chemistry out to users via apps,” declared Ingawale, who also invented ToucHB. This is a portable device that performs a blood test for anemia without breaking the patient’s skin. He designed this test device as a way to prevent women in developing countries from dying of anemia, by making it easy for healthcare workers—often untrained—to perform the required diagnostic tests in the field.

“I wanted to get medical health checks into users’ hands,” he told the BBC. “The idea is to get people closer to their own information. I want people to better understand what is going on in their bodies.

Substituting in the Field for the $10,000 Clinical Laboratory Instrument

If it does well, we can make it available to mobile clinics,” added Ingawale. “Instead of buying a $10,000 [clinical laboratory testing] machine, they can use their existing smartphones.”

To make this possible, Ingawale’s mobile phone app uses everyday language, such as “trace” or “large,” to describe results. The uCheck app also provides diagnostic information. For example, if users don’t know that presence of leukocytes could indicate a urinary tract infection, they can tap on the leukocytes tab to find the information, noted the UPI.com report.

uChek iPhone application

The uChek iPhone application by Biosense Technologies displays test results alongside normal compound levels. (Photo copyright Biosense Technologies.)

uChek was tested at a Mumbai hospital on 1,200 urine samples. It did a better job than humans by just reading the color-coded strips. While sophisticated analyzers used in medical laboratories may be more accurate than uChek, they cost up to $10,000 and only read a specific type of test strip, noted Ingawale. “The medical device industry operates on a proprietary, closed hardware and a recurring revenue business model,” he said. “I’m trying to democratize healthcare.”

Biosense rolled out the Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) app in March 2013. The company is currently working on an Android version of the uChek mobile app.

Future of Wireless Medicine and Clinical Laboratory Tests

Ingawale consistently emphasizes that the idea isn’t to eliminate doctors or other professionals. In an interview published in The Atlantic, he further stated that his goal is to design a tool that helps people with chronic conditions—like diabetes or kidney, liver or bladder problems—better manage their disease.

However, Ingawale apparently would like his potentially disruptive technology to play a role in changing the in vitro diagnostics (IVD) industry. His statement that “the medical device industry operates on a proprietary, closed hardware and a recurring revenue business model” is consistent with his observations that a mobile app that uses a cell phone to accurately diagnose different diseases can democratize that aspect of healthcare—to the benefit of individuals, particularly in lesser-developed nations.

Thus, could it be that mobile applications designed to allow individuals to diagnose any number of medical conditions represent a threat to the IVD industry? Time will answer this question. But it is a question that strikes to the core of the existing business model for IVD manufacturers, which is to sell analyzers and reagents to large, centralized medical laboratories.

—Patricia Kirk

Related Information:

TED 2013: Uchek app tests urine for medical issues

Smartphone app Uchek tests urine for medical problems

A Medical Lab in Your Smartphone

New app to test your urine with your iPhone

Biosense Technologies develops pocket-sized disease detector

Replace Expensive Doctors Visits With An App That Analyzes Your Pee

New App Turns Your iPhone Into a Mobile Urine Lab

iDoctor Could be the future of medicine

Myshkin Ingawale: A blood test without bleeding

Top Ten Medical Uses of the iPhone

NBC News Report: Dr. Eric Topol

Phone apps may delay skin cancer diagnosis

Cleveland Clinic’s Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2012 Include Three Megatrends with Broad Impact on Clinical Pathology Laboratories

 

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