Mobile phone app could ‘transform’ outcomes for gout sufferers

Warm, swollen, reddened and hurts when pressure is applied: These symptoms usually spell gout. Researchers are now hopeful that smartphone apps can help the growing number of people with this condition. — dpa

EDINBURGH: 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 an already stretched healthcare service”.

Experts from Edinburgh University in the UK say larger trials are now needed to evaluate the clinical and cost-effectiveness of the approach.

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 (Android/iOS) – to communicate their results to a healthcare team, who provided instant treatment advice.

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.

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 study was funded by the Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation, and is published in medical journal The Lancet Rheumatology. – dpa

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