I like being able to quantify myself and my health – to measure how my health is progressing or regressing. I also like anything that has the potential to reduce healthcare costs – and I think technology is one of the best ways of accomplishing this cost reduction. One of the ways in which health technology can reduce healthcare costs is by allowing patients to be proactive in monitoring their health and reducing the need for medical professionals to be involved in simple health monitoring.
One example of this sort of self-monitoring innovation is uChek. uChek is a urinalysis application currently available for the Apple iPhone but soon to be available for Android phones as well. Don’t worry! There will be no peeing on one’s phone!
When we go to the doctor these days they give us a little container with lid and point towards the bathroom. After urinating in the cup we screw the lid on, write our name on the label, and place it in a small container with many other similar containers. Eventually, these urine samples are shipped off to a lab where they are analyzed, results tallied, and in the end your doctor receives a full report on your urine. This usually takes a day or two and one oftentimes doesn’t get to see the entire report – just hears from the doctor if everything is “okay” or if we need further tests/treatment.
Now, lets talk about the uChek process. We walk into the bathroom with a small cup and fill it with urine. We then take a chemical strip and place it in the urine for two seconds (ummm, yes, hold onto it, you don’t want to be fishing it out). Then we place the chemical strip into a small “map” that has some symbols on it. Take a picture of the map/chemical strip and the phone automatically interprets what is going on with your urine. Now isn’t that simple?
The cost up-front is higher than I’d like: $99 for the app and then an ongoing need for chemical strips ($20 for a bunch of ’em according to TechCrunch). Still, you could analyze your urine every week or month (yes, even daily), view trends over time, and proactively monitor if something crazy is going on.
Thinking about folks who have had issues show up in their urine previously that are likely to reoccur…a technological solution like this could cut down the number of doctor visits significantly and allow the patient to see issues before they began feeling the detrimental health effects (e.g., we oftentimes have health issues long before we feel the pain that causes us to visit a doctor).