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Project Tide – point of care diagnostics and big plans for data

By Matthew Ellen, 18 Oct 2016

The Project Tide diagnostic phone app  is out in the field being tested by real people! We’re so excited to have made it this far. It’s currently being tested in Malawi and South Africa. Data is starting to come in and we are using it to improve the accuracy of our system. We’ve already moved on to the next iteration of the app and a new version of the stand.

For a bit of context about why it’s so important, here are some stats about TB in the UK vs Malawi in 2014:

  • In the UK, with a population of about 64 million people, there were around 7,800 cases of TB recorded. In Malawi, with a population of about 17 million, there were around 38,000 cases. 
  • In the UK 313 people died of TB. In Malawi 9,800 people died of TB.

One of the main bottlenecks for surviving TB in Malawi is diagnosis. It takes so long to diagnose TB that the infection gets out of control, not to mention the other people who will have caught it. This is what the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Project Tide are tackling. Their implementation strategies and our technology are set to increase the speed and accuracy of diagnosis immeasurably (well, measurably, but by a lot). Instead of having to wait weeks for a diagnosis, the patient can find out within the span of one appointment.

Beyond the phone app the Project Tide team want to help health authorities monitor and react to communicable diseases, as well as other health care issues, in a highly efficient manner. With the phone app in field testing, we are focusing our efforts on doing something with the data we collect. Initially we’re looking into pinpointing hotspots of outbreaks to help focus limited resources as efficiently as possible. Further to this we will use existing data alongside the data we collect to formulate strategies for dealing with diseases, for example noticing incidents of a disease suddenly decrease in location a, and seeing if it’s possible to take their methods and apply them to location b, where the disease is still prevalent.

While technology is only a small part of the solutions we hope to foster, it is nonetheless satisfying to be contributing to something that can improve the lives of so many.