Project Tide – Tuberculosis Testing AppEvery year there are 9 million new tuberculosis (TB) cases and 1.5 million TB-related deaths across the world, 95% of which are in low and middle income countries (LMIC).
In LMICs a lack of lab facilities, inability to procure costly TB tests and difficulty linking results from labs to rural patients precludes quick and accurate diagnosis of TB patients (WHO). Project Tide is using technology to facilitate accurate diagnosis and follow up of TB patients in LMICs by using a smartphone app to improve the diagnostic accuracy of inexpensive diagnostic strip-based tests that are used in LMICs and organising data in a database to map and track TB incidence, prevalence and treatment outcomes. Quick and accurate diagnosis of TB patients using the Project Tide app will allow healthcare services to intervene early to save lives and prevent the spread of TB – indeed, the WHO reports that approximately 37 million lives were saved through accurate TB diagnosis and timely treatment between 2000 and 2013.
The Project Tide team has been working on the app for about 18 months (http://projecttide.co.uk/). It can now be implemented as a cross-platform smartphone/tablet app, including on more widely available smart phones like the Chinese-manufactured Huawei; the app’s image recognition and calibration has been refined for use in a range of different lighting conditions; the app has been scientifically calibrated against different levels of TB protein (a generous gift from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation); they have developed a data platform to collect real time data during field testing in Malawi; they have developed a means to remotely update the app’s software, if they need to, during field testing in Malawi.
Their collaborators at the LSHTM are currently field-testing the app through the Wellcome-funded STAMP trial (http://www.isrctn.com/ISRCTN71603869) in Malawi