Other kits, providing analysis of diabetes and drug misuse for example, are in the pipeline. Taking a minimalist approach to make it easier for patients and their carers, the north Yorkshire-based company’s solution combines a sample, for UTIs that’s a drop of urine, embedded in a postcard format.
This works with a smartphone app, acting as a clinical grade scanner, to produce the understandable, traceable results that eliminate user errors and that can then be shared with medics for prescribing.
Costing £10 for two paper strips, the kits will be available for patients to buy directly from pharmacies, receive from doctors on demand, GPs and their healthcare trusts and care home groups.
TestCard’s technology, which draws on the standard chemical testing used for example in pregnancy analysis, “is proven to be more reliable than professional dipstick reading devices,” say the founders, blood analytics services expert Dr Andrew Botham and Testcard chief executive Luke Heron, a fin tech specialist.
“When delivered with our app it transforms detection, making it affordable, paper-based so sustainable and also accessible, saving time and speeding up diagnosis,” they explain.
Some three percent of all GP appointments involve UTI issues and TestCard sees its kits as being able to make a significant contribution to easing pressure on the system.
The shift among the public towards greater awareness about health prevention was already underway, but since Covid “it’s like 10 years of behaviour change in eight months,” they add.
But it was men’s reluctance to take care of their health that originally sparked TestCard’s concept three years ago. That led to the pair’s goal of creating a testing method that, because it was more private and convenient, could encourage more take-up.
Since then the company has raised over £8million in development funding.
Now after bagging a top technology award in the US which has attracted global interest in their innovation, TestCard aims to seek up to £15 million venture capital backing next year for global expansion, be in profit by 2022 with a turnover forecast of £10 million by next year.
Around 20 new hires are expected next year joining 30 staff split between digital operations in Edinburgh and R&D and assembly in Scarborough. A small team in Texas is handling US regulatory approval.
New product development includes tests for diabetes, pregnancy and ovulation combined, kidney function, sexually transmitted diseases, prostate problems and that drug misuse, something TestCard hopes will trigger the sporting world’s interest.
“Our accessible alternative solution has massive implications for the global marketplace. It has to be of value both to individuals and healthcare providers,” says Heron who is currently overseeing a partnership tie-up for diabetes with India healthcare insurer Aetna.
“We can help close the gap in countries with inequalities in healthcare and are working with communities in the Amazon. In future we see our products being distributed in colleges and especially care homes where UTI can cause immense problems. TestCard is well positioned for the new world of home testing.”