It comes after 40 patients taking part in a small study were given a device to test their urate level – the amount of uric acid in the blood and the single 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.
A phone app has been used to help some gout sufferers manage their illness, with the project’s creators claiming that it might help improve clinical outcomes “without putting further strain on an already overburdened healthcare system.” Larger trials are now needed, according to Edinburgh University experts, to assess the approach’s clinical and cost-effectiveness.
The number of people with gout has risen in recent years, due to increases in the rates of contributory conditions such as obesity and cardiovascular disease. Speaking about the study, Dr Philip Riches, consultant rheumatologist at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, said: “Supporting patients to manage their own gout can transform clinical outcomes, and the approach we have developed offers a way of doing this without putting more pressure on an already stretched healthcare service.”
The results from this were compared against 20 patients who were given the usual care, with a plan from their GP to manage the condition. Almost three quarters (73%) of those using the phone app reached the target urate level, compared to 15% of parents given more traditional care. Gout is the most common cause of inflammatory arthritis and affects an estimated 20,000 people in Edinburgh alone, with high levels of uric acid in the blood causing crystals to form around the joints, causing pain to sufferers.