A phone app has been used to help some gout sufferers control their condition – with the team behind the project saying it could help transform clinical outcomes ‘without putting more pressure on a health service already overloaded”.
Experts from the University of Edinburgh say larger trials are now needed to assess the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the approach.
It comes after 40 patients in a small study were given a device to test their urate levels – the amount of uric acid in the blood and the most important risk factor for developing and controlling gout.
They then used a smartphone app – called GoutSMART – to communicate their results to a healthcare team, who provided instant treatment advice.
The results were compared with those of 20 patients who received usual care, with a plan from their GP to manage the condition.
Almost three-quarters (73%) of those using the phone app achieved the target urate level, compared to 15% of parents receiving more traditional care.
Gout is the most common cause of inflammatory arthritis and affects around 20,000 people in Edinburgh alone, with high levels of uric acid in the blood causing crystals to form around joints, causing pain in sufferers.
The number of people with gout has increased in recent years, due to rising rates of contributing diseases such as obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Speaking about the study, Dr Philip Riches, consultant rheumatologist at the University of Edinburgh’s Center for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, said: “Helping patients manage their own gout can transform clinical outcomes, and the approach that we have developed offers a way to achieve this. without putting more pressure on an already overstretched health service.
The study was funded by the Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation and is published in the medical journal The Lancet Rheumatology.