Stanford researchers design home-based urinalysis using smartphone, dipstick

Urinalysis tests are simple, cost-effective ways to get results for any number of biomarkers, from measuring glucose to determining whether an individual has an infection. However, the tests can create additional work for physicians, require follow-up appointments and are sometimes inconclusive.

 Stanford (Calif.) University researchers have developed a home-based urinalysis test that sits inside of a box designed for easy assembly. Users use a dropper to load urine into a chute that delivers it to a dipstick. The dipstick, which rests inside of a box, is divided and color-coded to correspond with a number of potential diagnoses.

The box is designed with a multi-layered system inside it, so the dipstick receives the proper amount of urine, rather than too little or too much, which could impact the quality of the test results. The top of the box accommodates a video camera lens from a smartphone. Once placed on top of the box, the camera records the action taking place on the dipstick as soon at the urine is deposited on it. After two minutes, the recording can be transferred to a computer where results are displayed.

The prototype is detailed in a paper from Lab on a Chip, a Royal Society of Chemistry journal. The authors conclude the results produced from their device are more reliable than other home tests and "could potentially encourage the medical community to accept dipstick results reported by patients."

The device is currently compatible with off-the-shelf dipsticks and only requires a one-time calibration, which could also speed adoption. The authors plan to develop an app to accompany the prototype.

More articles on smartphones and healthcare:

6 key takeaways on health system telemedicine integration 
Not-so-sensitive data: The case for unprotected health information 
Health is the No. 1 reason consumers purchase wearables: This and 5 other survey takeaways 


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