Cystitis is the worst. Not only because it can leave you practically chained to the toilet for days on end, or because it makes every dribble of wee feel like it’s sulphuric acid, but also just because it’s a bugger to faff around getting a doctor’s appointment for some proper medical help.
That might change soon, however, as the NHS is rolling out a trial in 38 pharmacies across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire that would enable women to test themselves for cystitis using their mobile phones. Hello, this is the future calling.
The Dip UTI test is a clinically-proven at-home test combining the standard dipstick urine test with an app that converts your smartphone camera into a clinical grade medical device. Nifty, eh?
The idea is that women who suspect they have a urinary tract infection (UTI) visit a pharmacy where they’re given the kit, containing a strip. The strip must be dipped into a mid-stream urine sample, before being placed on to a proprietary colour-board (which also comes as part of the kit) which women then scan with their mobile phone. The app uses colour blocks on the board as a reference to accurately detect whether or not there is a bacterial infection.
Under the NHS pilot scheme, the kits would be free for women, and would be a quicker means of receiving a UTI diagnosis than if they had to wait for a doctor’s appointment. If the test shows up positive for cystitis, a pharmacist could then offer the patient antibiotics (at the standard NHS cost of £9). If the test does not detect a UTI, women will be given a follow-up consultation with the pharmacist, who will explore symptoms further and may refer the patient on to a GP for more investigation.
If the pilot proves to be efficient and successful, and the scheme is rolled out nationwide, it could be a win for all involved. It would be a far easier way for women to access the treatment they need, and could provide relief for overloaded doctor’s surgeries. Suspected UTIs account for up to 3% of all GP visits in England alone, which is around 10.2 million consultations every year. Yup, there’s a lot of cystitis going on up in here.
So let’s raise a glass of cranberry juice in celebration of this new, potentially very useful technological development, shall we?
If the NHS pilot scheme is not available in your area, you can buy a Dip UTI test from 300 Boots stores, and from pharmacies nationwide, for £10. Find out more about the test here.
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