A tool to improve treatment for patients affected by Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS) is being developed in a new partnership between the University of Huddersfield, UScale and Sheffield-based digital health company Elaros.
LUTS refer to a group of medical symptoms that can significantly affect quality of life for men and women. Millions of people are affected by LUTS in the UK and hundreds of millions are affected worldwide.
Symptoms vary, but can include the experience of sudden, urgent needs to urinate and a significant increase in urine frequency during the day and during the night.
One of the main obstacles to successful treatment is the availability of a straight-forward test to measure how severely the patient is being affected.
Currently, patients are asked to use jugs to measure the amount of urine they pass for three consecutive days, and record the results in a paper-based diary. This can feel undignified and leads to low compliance. The lack of information provided to health professionals as a result affects the quality of treatment they’re able to provide.
In this partnership, funded by Grow MedTech, Elaros, UScale and the University of Huddersfield are combining two separate technologies to address the problem.
UScale, developed by Dr James Williamson at the University of Huddersfield and NHS urologist Mr Nicolas Bryan, provides a more effective way of taking measurements, while a digital bladder diary devised by Elaros helps maintain an accurate, easily accessible record.
Using UScale, the patient urinates into a disposable container connected to a digital scale. The device records the weight, and the patient can simply empty the receptacle and throw it in the bin before leaving the bathroom.
Meanwhile, the digital bladder diary developed by Elaros enables users to track the volume, urgency and frequency that they urinate over the three-day monitoring period, using a smartphone app. The data captured is analysed by a powerful algorithm, linked to NICE Guidelines, before providing an indicative diagnosis back to the health professional. The data and report can then be added directly into the patient record.
These two technologies will be brought together into one prototype device using a £20,000 Proof of Feasibility grant from Grow MedTech. The combined device will enable UScale to automatically fill in an online digital bladder diary when used, and make this information accessible by the patients’ health professional.
The Grow MedTech Technology Innovation Manager who brokered the new partnership, Dr Luke Watson, says: “In isolation each party’s device improves patient compliance, but when combined they create an all-in-one solution with the potential to improve treatments for millions.”
Elaros’ CEO Professor Paul O’ Brien said: “We know the significant role that academic collaborations play in advancing our work. This collaboration allows us to further our goal of developing a powerful diagnostic tool to support clinicians in providing effective treatments and provides a dignified healthcare solution for end-users.”
Dr James Williamson said: “Currently patients tend only to record measurements at home because of the impracticality of taking a measuring jug to work. This new device will require minimal training and, because it’s small and discrete, it can be used in a public toilet or at work without risk of embarrassment.”
Lead clinical partner and urologist Dr Nicolas Bryan said: “This funding is helping us to develop a product that will be widely useful and will help patients secure the right treatment to allow them to achieve the best outcome.”