UK Digital Health company TestCard wins ‘Top Emerging Tech’ Award at CES 2019

UK Medtech TestCard basked in the glory of star status at the world’s most important (and biggest) trade fair this week; CES (Consumer Electronics Show). 

The company, which was exhibiting in Eureka Park, picked up the ‘Top Emerging Technology’ Award at the show, beating off competition from 4,500 exhibitors, as over 200,000 delegates descended on Las Vegas for the annual tech extravaganza.

The latest win comes as TestCard prepares to launch the first of its at-home diagnostic products (at-home UTI, pregnancy and diabetes screening), with roll outs plotted for the UK, India and US markets during 2019.

TestCard turns your iPhone into a private, clinical-grade urinalysis kit

TestCard is already functional in the UK, where the company has partnered with home care providers and insurance companies to provide low-cost screenings and pre-screening triage for health conditions, including glucose levels for diabetes.

The startup expects to bring its product to the U.S. by the end of 2019. Illustrating how its low-cost product (a test package of three strips costs less than $5), the company notes that there are an estimated 10.5 million clinic visits annually for urinary tract infections alone, and around 2-3 million of those involve an Emergency Room response. The firm stated that the average cost of treating a UTI in the U.S. was $2,598.

The range of urine-based testing that TestCard’s various strips can evaluate include fertility testing and ovulation optimization, allowing the app to provide guidance on the ideal timing for successful conception based on hormone tracking over time; a prostate health score derived from measuring a prostatic specific antigen; urinalysis of ketone levels and proteins used to monitor kidney health over time; and screenings for drugs including amphetamines, barbiturates, and narcotics.

Beyond partnerships with insurance companies, healthcare trusts, and general practitioners, TestCard also plans to sell its test packages directly to consumers at retail and online through merchants including Amazon. Its extremely low-cost packaging and simple mailer format enable the product to reach remote geographies where traveling to a doctor or clinic may be impractical, particularly for applications that involve regular, ongoing testing.

By taking advantage of the sophisticated mobile cameras in modern iPhones, the TestCard app can be used by untrained staff and still deliver highly accurate data compliant with British NHS and ISO regulations, and the company expects to gain prompt approval in the rest of Europe and the U.S. under FDA “substantially similar” policies followed to align American and foreign regulators. The product already has CE marking designating that it meets EU requirements, and will only need local language packaging to expand across various markets in Europe.

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Neo Ventures backs TestCard to disrupt home-based health testing markets

What happened

TestCard, a London-based digital health company, has raised $1.7 million (£1.25 million) in seed funding from Neo Ventures, a small Bulgarian investment firm focused on accelerating European startups.

The company is entering the rapidly-maturing smartphone-enabled home urinalysis market, with plans to release its first product in the UK this year. The product is a physical postcard with an embedded, pull-out urine testing strip, along with a smartphone app that can scan the postcard and deliver a result. The initial launch will include UTI and pregnancy testing, and future versions of the product will include prostate health screening, pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, and kidney health.

The test produces a result that’s easy for a patient to read — pregnant or not pregnant, UTI or not UTI. But the more technical results — leukocyte or nitrate counts — are also available in the app for a doctor to view.

Why it matters

While TestCard is not yet cleared by the FDA, it does have a CE Mark and will be among the first companies to bring a product like this to the UK. In addition to plans for a direct-to-consumer product, the company already has a signed agreement to trial the product at a Yorkshire NHS Trust and says several hundred GPs have pre-registered to use it.

Dr. Andrew Botham, the company’s chief scientific officer who cofounded TestCard with CEO Luke Heron, said telemedicine is another major target, including working with chatbot-based services like Babylon in the UK.

“We’ve been contacted by a lot of doctor on demand services,” he told MobiHealthNews. “Those services are absolutely great … but they have some questions around how they actually apply the prescribing of antibiotics, especially. They’re engaging entirely in electronic interaction and prescribing entirely on a discussion that’s happening electronically. You can imagine if you build an empirical measure, that concern could go away. You could tack on a system where a person has a test card, does a test, and based on those results they’re able to generate an electronic interaction with a care professional, who is then able to give advice based on that.”

What is the trend

Although this space has been an area of interest in digital health for a number of years, the last few months it seems to have ramped up considerably. Just this year, Healthy.ioinui Health (formerly Scanadu), and Scanwell have all received FDA clearances. Scanwell’s is perhaps most similar to TestCard, as it focuses specifically on UTI.

However, it seems likely that all the competitors will be able to eventually flesh out a full line of tests. So competition in the market could shake out to usability.

There’s also likely to be plenty of room in the market, at least at first. These at-home tests have applications as provider-prescribed tools, direct-to-consumer tests, or as components of telemedicine solutions. They also have tremendous potential in developing markets around the world.

On the record

Botham says TestCard’s mission is to make testing easy and empowering to the patient.

“Part of it’s about accessibility, but part of it’s about confidence,” he said. “The whole process the test takes them through — including just being in a postcard format which is a very familiar thing — the whole thing fills them with confidence to know they are producing an accurate and reliable result. The fact that people carry their phones around all the time, they control their lives with their phones, again gives them a certain amount of ownership. They carry their health record around with them so that rather than these tests being snapshot tests, they start to become an integrated health record.”