Kidney self-testing could revolutionise patient care

Posted on in Research

Patients have been testing their own kidney function at home as part of a clinical study that could help revolutionise patient care.

David Forsdike (left) with the renal team at James Cook

David Forsdike (left) with the renal team at James Cook

Renal patients at The James Cook University Hospital have been self-testing their own blood and urine samples using two hand held devices.

The patients then attended appointments at the hospital on the same day to have their kidney function tested conventionally by healthcare professionals to help measure the accuracy of their self-test results.

Renal consultant Jonathan Murray hopes that the results of the study will lead to national trials, and eventually to patients being able to self-test at home as part of their routine care, therefore reducing the number of hospital appointments they have to attend.

“It’s very similar to how people with diabetes check own blood sugars at home,” he said. “There’s no reason why patients should not be able to check their own kidney function at home too, but it’s never been done routinely before.

“Many patients need their kidney function checking but are otherwise fit and well, and would not otherwise need to see a doctor or nurse.

“Often, they only require a blood and urine test and we thought if they could do this at home we can save them a journey to hospital and the inconvenience of organising time off work.

“It also means we can spend more time with those patients who are ill and really do need to see us.”

The innovative idea earned the team a finalist’s spot at the Bright Ideas in Health Awards 2019 and was also well received by the 15 patients who took part in the study.

David Forsdike, 57, of Darlington, has been a renal patient at the trust since 2000. Three years ago he needed a kidney transplant and was lucky enough to get a living donor. He said he had no problem doing the kidney function tests at home.

“You can test yourself straight away and find out if everything is ok,” he said. “It really helps reduce your level of anxiety.”

He believes the device is going to make a huge difference to patients in the future.

“I used to travel for work and had to arrange my travel around my appointments, but with self-testing I could just take the devices with me.”

Dr Murray said there is still some work to do to make the devices more user friendly.

“It’s a simple idea but we need to refine the technology, including developments that will make the blood self-testing devices easier for all patients to use.

“We very much hope the pioneering work we have done here in the Tees Valley will provide a platform for development of this idea at a national level.”