Urine sample app lets users detect diseases with iPhones

Description:  The newest most cutting edge app allows users to test their urine for up to 25 diseases by simply peeing into a cup and taking a picture of a color-coded urinalysis strip.

Source: cnet.com

Date: Feb 27, 2013


Ever thought a smartphone could detect what was in your urine? Well, now it can. A new iPhone app, developed by MIT entrepreneur Myshkin Ingawale and unveiled at the TED conference this week, lets people take urine samples with their mobile device. Rest of Story

Questions for discussion:

1. Would you use this app?

2. What implications do you think Uchek may have on the healthcare industry?


21 thoughts on “Urine sample app lets users detect diseases with iPhones

  1. Liz Martin

    I think this app opens up very interesting doors for self-diagnosis, and for making people more aware and more responsible for their health. If other apps were to be developed for diagnosing conditions or diseases I think it would decrease the burden on the health care system; anyone could perform diagnoses of minor issues on themselves. I think the problem comes when the information in the app could be analyzed by the users in different ways, or when the app malfunctions and miscalculates the diagnosis. So instead of replacing normal healthcare services completely, I can definitely see it being very useful as a supplement to them. I think that knowing more information about one’s own body makes it easier for doctors to treat patients, and if this kind of application proves successful in the industry doctors could use it regularly as a way to start a check-up with the patient before they even walk through the door. This would help increase the efficiency of clinics and check-ups. I do think that if this app becomes a part of the industry, the next question should be about the parameters of self medication. If someone uses the app to self-diagnose and they feel they can rid themselves of their issue without a doctor, do we discourage this? Personally I would use this app, but I’d be paranoid of becoming a hypochondriac with it.

  2. Yaqian Diao

    I prefer to see a doctor every year to check whether or not there is a disease in my body, because the systemic examination in the hospital would be much more comprehensive than the app. Even though I buy the app, I will still believe the doctor more than the Iphone. First of all, it will improve the health awareness in people’s mind. People will care about whether they are sick much more than before. Secondly, it will grow up the number of customers purchasing the health care drugs and equipments. Thus, the trend to health care will bring the large number of profits to the healthcare industry. Finally, people can check their health with the equipments and apps at home, so that they do not need to go to see the doctor in the hospital. It satisfies someone who would like to keep their secrets.
    However, in my point of view, when we have an actual disease or some other illness, we had better to see the doctor and treat the illness based on the doctor’s suggestions, because the doctors know the illness more than the normal people.

  3. Songxuan Wu

    I think I would be downloading and playing this app in the first time by my curiosity, but I do not use it frequently. Because I still do not believe the accuracy rate according to the urine sample picture, so I quickly give up using this app. Ucheck is not an easy sample to determine the health condition for the users, the Ucheck has more game factors to people. To be honesty, this app is very convenience and helpful if needed to check body condition, and support some useful information and remind the ways to some users to care their healthy.
    In my opinion, the Ucheck app may not have on the healthcare industry because it still has different level of error. If the error affects doctor to treat and diagnosis his or her patient, it will cause some serious consequence to the patient. The hospital and doctor do not fear about the development of app to traditional medicine because most people always depend on the face to face diagnose. The accuracy of app needs to be improved in the future if Ucheck want to develop in medical area, and support some basic and useful knowledge for user that will be better.

  4. Ahmed Awad

    With the advancement of technology, there is endless possibility of advancement. This idea has multiple befits as well as draw backs. For example, it could be very convenient for busy or elderly. But as draw back it might lack the accuracy. However personally I would not feel comfortable to use this technology, one reason I would rather go to a medical office to check up rather than letting an app do it for me. The future implication of this app is very promising. For places that lack good and professional medical institution this would be a great idea. So instead of going to a doctor you can check yourself before you go to the doctor, or when the available healthcare system is always busy it would be a great idea. Now this is considered very bad for any healthcare system since it could potentially put them out of business. This idea could be looked at pros and cons, it’s very convenient and helpful if used but it lacks the accuracy; and for a society like ours it might do us harm than good. This app has a lot of in some society but not ours and I believe this app has lots promises

  5. Xinying Du

    This article sounds interesting that iPhone app can detect disease in urine sample. Although it sounds interesting, I am not going to try it. The procedure to do it is kind of complex.The article said that the app involves the user peeing into a cup, putting a color-coded urinalysis strip into the cup, taking of photo of the results which I think it is complex. I have no idea how to do it. This app is hard to handle. I have no idea how to use color coded urinalysis strip and where to get it. So it kinds of not easy to prepare this stuff. If one step goes wrong, maybe I can test something untruthful bad. If I choose, I will go to hospital to do the test not in app. It says that take a photo to do the test. In my opinion, different angle of the photo may have different results. In other words, I do not trust this kind of app. However, the price of this app is only cost 99cents which is very cheap. People can download it and test it for fun. It cannot be serious because it is only an app. So people can use it for fun.

  6. Eric Choi

    This app is interesting and does have a good idea, but personally, I would check out the app and test it out, but I would be too skeptical and double check with the doctor. Also, by taking a picture, I would be able to know if I have some kind of disease sounds non-sense. I would like to get mine actually tested out in a lab somewhere, than a smart phone telling me I have a certain disease.
    I think it depends on which country the user lives in can make a huge difference for the practicality of this app. For example, for Canadians, health care is free, so double checking with a doctor is not costly nor a problem. But I think it would waste a lot of the doctor’s time, which will result in more delayed healthcare service for every Canadians. In U.S., instead of delayed service, it will be more costly, because health care is not provided. I believe there are cons to every pros. This app is a great idea, but I see more potential problems than the benefits.

  7. Carlie Willimont

    No I don’t think I would use this app. However I do see the convenience aspect appealing to users. The healthcare system is generally a long process that many people just don’t have time for. Going into the emergency room can take hours and you can end up seeing a doctor who doesn’t know a thing about you and just wants you in and out of emerge as soon as possible. Although this app may test urine and tell you an exact disease I don’t think I would ever trust the app to be completely accurate and would have to go to a doctor anyway. The only circumstance I can see this app being useful would be when traveling in a foreign country, having an idea of what may be wrong with you might be a great resource before trying to get an appointment in a foreign country. It could also give you the ability to know if you can wait to see a doctor till you arrive back home or not.

    I see this app causing problems for the healthcare system. I can see mothers who are paranoid testing their children’s urine frequently, believing their child has some disease and rushing them to a doctor every chance they get. I also believe that individuals may try to self medicate once they get results from the app which can lead to several complications. I think the app would cause more harm to the medical system because patients would be assessing themselves and either believing they are dying or some disease or getting negative results and thinking they are completely okay when they aren’t.

  8. Calvin Chu

    To be honest, this app can be useful in some situation but it also can be useless for certain situation. I will say it really depends on how you think. I agree it is convenience as it can tell your health status. It can hint you when your body is getting wrong or you might need rest. However, the only moment i will fee this app is useful, is the time I travel to other countries.As I am not the critzen in there and I don’t know the language they are speaking. This app can save me if necessary. However, other than that. This app is useless to me. Also, thinking about how wide use this app is. There also another problem. What if this app is not accuracy and if they are not reliability? It can be worse if the app tell you, you are alright while you are getting weak and sick. Therefore, I do not find this app is really good. At least for me.
    I can see the pros and the cons. The good side is, it is very convenience and helpful if needed. But, it can be risky as it is not accuracy. Nobody can tell. The user need someone to take responsible with it. If not, I don’t see this app will get popular and wide use as everyone is taking their health serious. I consider this app is not complete yet and can be better. As this app will improve and get better in the future. I believe this app will be useful and helpful.

  9. Regi Rocha

    I will not use this app because I am old school man. I do not believe a tiny smart phone can accurately tell your healthy status. I also think this app can give false information and lead people to self-medicate, or sadly let people think they are healthy that in fact they are not. If I want to see if I am drinking enough water I see the colour of my urine, or if I feel pain when urinating I will go to the doctor to be checked, not use my phone. I also asked my wife, a nurse if she would use this app. She mentioned many different reasons why she believes it is also not a good thing to use but said that probably, people will still use it.

    The implications I think Uchek may have on the healthcare industry is little. Although each day more and more doctors use smart phones or tablets to exchange images or rely on other medical apps. I do not think tomorrow people will stop seeing their doctor because they have this app. As well, people use the internet every day to diagnose themselves, but they still have to go to the doctor to confirm this diagnosis. It does not hurt to try and see how the app works and hopefully see if we are disease free but I won’t put my hard earned dollar into this app because I do not believe this is 100% accurate.

  10. Kai Zhao

    My first thought about this idea is weird. However, it does support us convenience. When I am traveling around in other countries, and I do not have the local insurance, and I think there is something wrong with me, in this case, I would like to use this technic. Nonetheless, I must take other factors into consideration, such like the costs, accuracy, and reliability. I do not want this phone tell me that I get some kind of serious disease to scare me while I am doing all right. Also, there is also chance that I really get some problems, but this phone tells me I am doing OK. In this case, I might miss the best chance of being healed. Thus, if either of these cases above happens, who is going to be responsible for the consequences will be a problem for users.
    I think it could have both positive and negative impacts. For the healthcare industry, it support convenience for people, but meanwhile, it has the potential risks to generate unaccurate diagnose. Users need someone or some organizations to be responsible for them, and once phone users start relying on this technic, they are taking their health unserious. This technic is uncompleted and unreliable so far, we need more data and reliable statistic information to support its accountability. At least so far, I still trust hospitals could offer me the most accurate and reliable diagnose. Once this is a mistake for health, it is going to be a huge one. No one wants to take their health under risks.

  11. Kristina Madarasz

    If there was a chance that I thought something was wrong with me I would go to the doctor as soon as possible, HOWEVER, if I was traveling in another country and had no way of going to the doctor, I may use this app as a resource to help calm my suspicions or so I didn’t have to drastically change my travel plans, or know that whatever was wrong was not serious and I could wait until the next destination on my trip to find a doctor. Going to the doctor’s in another country can be very expensive so the app could be a cheap solution to an easy problem. With that being said, it could just as well miss-diagnose you and lead to something more serious that wasn’t caught in time and therefore lead to a more expensive solution.

    I think it could have a negative impact. People could start relying on the Uchek for everything and diagnose themselves wrong. They might think that one symptom just means a UTI and that was all they had, where in the grand scale of things, they may be missing other symptoms and they could really be pregnant or have and STI.

  12. Jingyi Wang

    I am not going to use this application to detect the diseases just by taking a picture of the urine sample, because that is too casual like a game. For example, when doing a kedney test by using the urine sample ,the doctor will check Urine protein determination, Urine microalbumin determination ,Urine dipstick , and Urine sediment examination. It is not that easy as just have a look at the color of the urine and give out the result. In addition, due to the light, tempreture, and display color difference, the real color you will see on the screen will be different from the real color of your urine sample. Science, which allows for no inaccuracy, and this will relate to your life, we should treat it carefully. But, I am doubtiing that there may be some people believe in this application and think that they have diseases or miss the best time to save their life. In the ethcal view, I think this application should not be provide to the public.

    I think this is the start of the electronic healthcare industry, we can expect that this technology will be fully developed and used in people’s daily life in the future. This technology will help in the short of doctor in the health industry, more people will get to know their disease quickly and more convinient.

  13. Litchi Peng

    I think I would use this app for fun only. Do not take the result serious. As the article mentioned, the way to detect is to use Smartphone to take a picture of the color-coded urinalysis strip into the cup, so it seems that this way to determine what is in urine is too easy. No matter what, Smartphone is only a kind of cell phone, it’s function and responsibility is not to detect urine. Besides, pictures taken by Smartphone may not exactly. It cannot guarantee the veracity. This kind of app is related to people’s health which is very serious issue for a person, so it better not check like playing a game on the Smartphone that is easy and relax. However, this new app is a new way to have fun. It also represents the high technology is increasing. I think Ucheck brings the healthcare industry into a higher stage since it is a brand new concept of healthcare. However, the veracity of app needs to be improved in the future. In my opinion, this kind of app cannot beat the hospital for sure, but it may help doctors to check patients in some way. Technology always brings convenience to people and make people’s lives easier.

  14. Crystal S.

    I guess I would if there were a reason to use it, but I would have to question the validity of it. I mean can it be that accurate? What if it was not and my life depended on the accuracy of the results, like people who have conditions that require them to know if there is something wrong with them with a simple urine analysis. I know that my daughter was born with urinary reflux and I had to test her urine once a month till she was 4 years old, it was imperative that it was negative and a few times when it came back positive for an infection we had to change her antibiotics to ensure that she did not get another kidney and bladder infection. She was 3 days old when she started having a fever if I had waited another day her Dr. informed me that she could have died from a simple bladder infection which had travelled up to her kidneys. So I can see how this type of device could help those people who need to know if their urine is clean and infection free. This type of application may just revolutionize the healthcare industry.

  15. Jill

    I would absolutely use an app to check my health as long as I was confident it would provide an accurate diagnosis. Progressing through our health care system is a slow process. When a GP cannot help someone, they refer the patient to a specialist. Depending on how sick the patient is, the patient can wait months to see the specialist. Then the specialist suggests the tests to be done and the patient can wait weeks and sometimes months to have the test. This must be frustrating for a doctor who wants to help people, but has to wait so long to know what to do. If an inexpensive phone app could speed up the process to find out what is actually happening in someone’s body, doctors could spend more time treating problems than reviewing files. Our government is trying to cut health-care costs, and I suspect they will embrace technology that eliminates the need for more expensive testing. Perhaps in the future there will be an app to help prevent health related problems. For example if a person with high cholesterol could track their daily HDL and LDL numbers, they could make changes in their diet and exercise habits faster and prevent a stroke.

  16. Victoria Wells

    No, I would never use an app like this. While the convenience is appealing, I wouldn’t trust the source. There are so many apps out there in the market that advertise as a reliable replacement for a healthcare physician, and yet I doubt that they’re as accurate as visiting a doctor in person. My scepticism derives from the fact that you have to take a photo of the results. Images turn out differently depending on the camera used, the lighting, etc., and so this affects the validity of the result. I have health care, and I use it. Sure, sometimes it would be easier to just use this app and find out yourself, but then what do you do with that information? Can you get a prescription? No. Looks like you have to make a trip to the doctor anyway to get one, and there goes the money you spent on the urine test strips and the time you spent using the app.

    The healthcare industry has nothing to fear from this app. The app falls in line with all of the other self-diagnosis tools such as different websites. People use it for convenience and for the basic knowledge, but if they feel that there is truly something wrong, they will consult the appropriate healthcare physician. An in-person check up is extremely more accurate than this app is. The app doesn’t account for any deviations from a standard diet, such as fasting or meals, and so this affects the results. Inaccurate results lead to a misdiagnosis which could lead to a worse condition than the person had to begin with!

  17. Cameron Pituley

    I don’t think I would use this app. If I ever feel truly sick I just go to the doctor to find out what is ailing me. I would trust the doctor over an iPhone application. But I can see how some people would find this to be very useful. In the U.S there is a co-pay to go see the doctor and if you don’t have health insurance visits can prove to be very expensive. I can see people using this app to save money by only going to the doctor if they are fairly certain if not positive that they need medication. This would imply that the accuracy of the test needs to be very high.

    I think Uchek could decrease the number of doctor visits since people would be able to self diagnose. This application has the potential to give people access to means to measure their basic health as well as give people who don’t have access to a doctor or who can’t afford one a means to check for various diseases. I think the price is right on this application and the strips are cheap compared to a doctor’s visit in the U.S.

  18. Brad Melchin

    Using this Uchek application would definitely be more convenient, but I’m not sure that I would trust an application like this 100%. I would definitely try the app if I thought there was nothing wrong with me, just to see if I was healthy according to the app. But if I knew there was something wrong with my body, I would rather leave my health with the expertise of a practiced doctor. When there is something wrong with me, I wouldn’t want any uncertainty that I feel would arise with an app like this. What if the lighting in the room was funny, so the colored strip turned out to be darker than normal, or even a different color? Because of possibilities like this, I would be hesitant to trust the Uchek application. As of right now, I don’t pay anything to go visit the doctor, so I don’t see the need to spend over $20 for all the supplies to do it myself.

    I could see this app exploding in popularity, because many people either don’t like going to see the doctor, don’t have time to see a doctor, or simply can’t afford it. If I was in a position where I couldn’t afford to see a doctor, this application could be a life saver. Uchek definitely has the ability to make a huge financial impact on the healthcare industry. If it could explode in popularity like I predict, I could see healthcare revenues decreasing by a fair amount.

  19. Sean Annis

    I think that i would use this app if i thought that i actually had an issue that wasn’t obvious. I think it will be a revolution in home health care and could even take some of the burden off of the publicly provided health care system in Canada. Rather than timely tests and going to appointments, this allows for one to check, at least a portion of, their health in a matter of minutes. i think this is a great idea that could be applied to many different tests and medical exams. I think the application is endless and this is an ingenious app.

    I think this app will change the industry in that people can do what a doctor can do at home. But i think it provides an advantage in an overall view of the healthcare industry. We always hear that nurses and doctors are understaffed and very stressed from the work they have to do. also the wait times in hospitals can be ridiculous but with this app and other related apps this could allow people to get faster results, be more proactive in their health, take pressure off the strain medical system, and better the lives of the individual. I don’t think that it will or ever could replace actual humans but for smaller tests, it says it’s very accurate and cheap. i don’t see a down side.

  20. Heather Allan

    This is just awesome. I am a hypochondriac, I definitely am worried about being sick all the time. I would use this app if it was available for my iPhone because it would save time, instead of going to a doctor just pee and take a picture! That would be great. The only problem is that if you are sick, or you do have a UTI or something then you are still going to have to go to the doctor in order to get prescriptions.

    If the app is more precise than the doctor then at least you would have the satisfaction that you know what is wrong with you as soon as you are feeling sick…However that could go horribly wrong as well and it could say you are sick when you actually are not. Also how accurate is one test, what happens if you take two and get different results. It could be really confusing and cause a lot of worry….However, because I am a hypochondriac I would use the app simply for the speed and peace of mind it would give me.

  21. Matthew Malm

    Personally, if I had even a idea that I may be sick or I begin to notice signs I immediately consult my physician. I believe the applications for this app are very limited. A user still has to buy the urine test strips, which are essential for any type of urine testing, so the interpretation by Uchek seems pointless. Have you ever taken a picture under a different type of lighting and noticed discoloration in the photo? I have under normal compact florescent lighting so I fail to see how anyone would be confidence in the results. Seeing a physician is free, why risk the stress of getting a incorrect diagnosis? In the medical field, where accuracy is essential for success, I can not see this app being even remotely a threat.

    Another aspect of Uchek that makes me skeptical is the limited amount of testing in a single sample. You may have to use multiple strips to achieve your goal, which i must mention is not listed anywhere on their site (uchek.in). This is crucial for consumers, were a single urine test run through a computer will test all aspects and diseases for free and at the convenience of the user. Another essential aspect of medical testing is fasting prior to testing. Again I see no recommendation on their website about that? How can a test analyzing sugars be valid if you just ate a do-nut? Inaccurate results can lead to stress or even improper treatment. It is only mentioned once in very tiny print, on Uchek’s website, that there is a possible deviation of 1 color block for testing. One color block can translate into a misdiagnosis pretty easily if you have to do multiple tests with multiple deviations from the truth.


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