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How lateral flow testing can mitigate the spread of other infectious diseases

Mark Philpott, Chief Executive of NPH Group, explains how the AI technology NPH Group used in lateral flow testing during the Covid-19 pandemic is now being considered by several governments worldwide to help reduce the spread of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, influenza and HIV…

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the UK in 2020, we had no idea what was ahead. Lockdowns were unheard of, and self-testing before seeing family at Christmas? Completely alien.

However, lateral flow testing provided a route out of the pandemic. It allowed us to finally get back to socialising by offering us the layer of reassurance that we all needed. When one line appeared instead of two, these small tests were the cause of many a sigh of relief.

For the first time in many of our lives, we were given the opportunity, the power, and the choice to test and manage our own health whilst being aware of how we could protect the health of others.

At NPH Group, we soon realised that artificial intelligence (AI) was key to mitigating the uncertainty of the pandemic, alongside the secure storage of clinical data. This insight led us to develop two software solutions that could be used to monitor and manage health in a secure and reliable way.

Test Manager was developed to help businesses stay legally compliant during the pandemic. It started as a platform for employees to use, post-test, to automatically report their results to government bodies (UKHSA).

This meant that businesses could be made aware of the COVID-19 status of their staff quickly and efficiently to limit exposure to the virus. The web-based app is easy to use, thanks to its dashboard feature to track and monitor test results, and it is accessible on any device.

The iMed app was developed by NPH Group and international medical devices company, BHA Medical. This app assists with collating and managing test results to allow travel and larger events to resume. Accuracy of tests is ensured by features such as the test kit bar code verification and the use of one-time QR codes.

Despite the lessening of coronavirus’ impact on everyday life, the lessons we learned about testing and managing our own health must not be forgotten, especially if here in the UK, we want to look after our fantastic national health service.

Right now, it can be difficult to get an appointment with your GP. This is because the NHS’ provision is at capacity.

If the onus for health management was taken off the NHS, and we were given the power to test and manage some conditions ourselves, this huge pressure would be relieved.

A prime example of this is flu season, which usually hits in September. It is likely that people infected with flu at this time will start booking appointments with their GP to get some advice about what their symptoms mean.

If people could test themselves at home, it would be revolutionary. Not only would the test results be available in less than 15 minutes, but the person could also stay at home to avoid passing on the virus to others. The procedure of attending a GP surgery to be told what a lateral flow test would have told you a week earlier is cumbersome and costly on many levels, and even dangerous to those vulnerable people you might encounter upon your visit.

Fortunately, official, influential governments around the world have seen the sense in the self-screening approach. HIV and tuberculosis are major threats to health within developing countries and are often made worse by limited access to health care services.

To combat this problem, NPH Group and BHA Medical are currently in conversations with the several governments in countries like Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and Indonesia to make lateral flow tests the main method of accessible and affordable testing for said disease. If this method is adopted, it will vastly improve public health and reduce the risk of people contracting these diseases.

Self-testing will also open the opportunity to identify the prevalence of diseases in developing countries and identify the most at-risk areas and groups. This would result in a more accurate approach to handling and treating disease because the people that need it most because they are in densely infected areas could be targeted for treatment.

At NPH Group, we are pushing out self-screening across the UK, and the world. As mentioned, we’re currently working on lateral flow testing for HIV, flu, and tuberculosis, but we’re also developing the application and use of cutting-edge screening technology for other diseases like malaria and yellow fever.

We’re keen to create an end-to-end ecosystem of healthcare and start challenging the inequalities of health across the world. Those in developed and developing countries should be empowered to care for themselves, their families, and their communities. NPH Group, through its partnership with BHA Medical, is determined to make this a reality.

Our testing technology is a ring of health for individuals, employees, travellers, businesses, and more. It entitles all to an independent, self-sufficient, and reliable approach to health. It’s affordable, it’s accessible, and it’s hopefully the future.