Kidney condition detected in minutes by an app

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A mobile phone app has speeded up the detection of a potentially fatal kidney condition in hospital patients.

Staff describe the technology as a “potential lifesaver”, providing diagnoses in minutes instead of hours.

Acute kidney injury is caused by serious health conditions, including sepsis, and affects one in five people admitted to hospital.

The condition is more common in older patients and, if not treated quickly, can affect other organs.

It accounts for around 100,000 deaths every year in the UK.

During a trial at London’s Royal Free Hospital, doctors and nurses received warning signals via a mobile phone app in an average of 14 minutes, when patients’ blood tests indicated the condition.

Normally, this would have taken several hours.

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The new alerting system, known as Streams, developed by the Royal Free with technology firm DeepMind, sends results straight to front-line clinicians in the form of easy-to-read results and graphs.

One of the blood tests looks for high levels of a waste product called creatinine, which is normally filtered out by the kidneys.

Information on other blood markers which can help treat patients is also made available quickly to specialists via the app.

DeepMind is owned by Alphabet and shares the same parent company as Google.

Hospital managers said there had been a knock-on reduction in the cost of treatment.

Mary Emerson, lead nurse specialist at the Royal Free, told the BBC the system had made a big difference to her job.

“It’s a huge change to be able to receive alerts about patients anywhere in the hospital,” she said.

“Healthcare is mobile and real time, and this is the first device that has enabled me to see results in a mobile real-time way.”

She said it was the first system that “fits with the way we work”.

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