Having iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) commonly refers to the body not having enough red blood cells, caused by persistently low levels of the essential nutrient iron. This is the standard medical cause and effect, but there is more to it than that. Underneath the paperwork there is a person, and, to the person, having iron deficiency anaemia also means a required lifestyle of patience and perseverance, as, until now the management of their condition has largely been a system of trial and error.
The body may struggle with processing, absorbing, or any other number of conditions inhibiting the natural route of haemoglobin formation. Medication, in the form of high dose iron supplements or direct iron infusion, is sometimes required in order to restore iron reserves and improve the haemoglobin and haematocrit levels.
The bodies response to treatment should be regularly checked through blood tests. This is where people with anaemia find themselves in an endless cycle of inefficiencies and waiting for tests, results and adjusted prescriptions, and this is where we want to help.
Entia was founded on the notion that the machinery used to test haemoglobin was either outdated or simply not easy enough to be used outside of a hospital laboratory. Modern medicine needs tools to diagnose patients without reliance on oversubscribed hospital laboratories.
As the word has spread about Entia’s efforts in trying to improve access to accurate blood tests, many people have shared with us their journey in anaemia, from diagnosis to finding a personalised and effective treatment that works for their lives. The one consistent theme in all their stories,
It takes time…
As with many conditions, managing anaemia requires regular blood tests. Regular blood tests require regular hospital visits, as local GPs don’t have the equipment necessary to run haemoglobin tests on site. Regular hospital visits require time, energy, transport, patience…
And that's a lot of energy required from someone whose condition inherently makes them very, very tired.
So, what are the alternatives?
The body is sometimes difficult to understand. You can know you feel tired, i.e. the symptom, but the cause is often more of a mystery, and as it is often a combination of several factors. Treating a chronic, diagnosed condition requires a more detailed look at what is going on inside the body ; a blood test.
Anaemia management comes accompanied with other issues that patients have shared with us:
“Anaemia is not about taking one boost of iron and then everything is fine.”
The inaccessibility of haemoglobin testing and the lack of easy follow up tests leaves the anaemia sufferer stuck with no good options to help them deal with something that is likely never to go away.
Why isn’t there a better way?
So why can’t patients get their haemoglobin levels checked at their GP? Or, why can’t anaemia sufferers simply walk into a doctor’s office, quickly screen their Hb and Hct levels and know then and there whether or not they need further medication. What prevents patients from walking into a medical professional’s office, receiving the test, and walking out with their prescription in the same day?
There must be a simpler way : Aptus
Aptus provides solutions to the problem of medical logistics much the same way that it functions as an in-vitro diagnostic, simply. The handheld device often deceives users into thinking that it really doesn’t do much, a misconception that we at Entia take great pride in. The truth is, the fundamental science behind the device, up until now, has been constricted to very large, tabletop equipment that would centrifuge blood take venously followed by optical analysis. Aptus is the elegant answer to the question of “why can’t we just make this smaller, but keep the accuracy?”. With no reagents required, the only part of the process that is consumable are the disposable blood collection cuvettes, and their storage requirements are much more flexible than anything involving reagents. In short, Aptus has taken the blood testing laboratory equipment, shrunk it down to a user friendly size, and made it financially feasible for all medical professionals.
What do GPs think of Aptus? User testing with GPs and their insights
Having heard the stories from people living with anaemia, we needed to find another point of view in order to fully understand how there could be this gap in care for such a large portion of people. We turned to local GPs in an effort to gain an understanding of their situation, what they thought a solution could look like, and what obstacles they could see to said solution. After engaging them and describing Aptus, every GP that we spoke to shared one reaction: excitement and intrigue.
“Can I test the device?”
On-screen prompts guide the user through the steps. Finger prick - Filling of the cuvette - Inserting the cuvette into the device -
“And I press start?”
After 1 minutes the results appear:
“And it looks like my levels are fine!”
After less than two minutes of trial use, two GPs had tested themselves and could confirm that their red blood cell counts were completely fine. Now imagine this process being applied to anemia sufferers, and contrast it to the inefficiency of a full day in hospital and waiting days for test results. For people with anaemia such easy check up tests to gauge the effectiveness of their medication could be immensely liberating.
There are 4 million people in the UK with anaemia, awareness and therefore early diagnosis of anaemia is low, the GPs also pointed out that;
“These kind of short tests could very easily be included to the basic screening procedures as taking the blood pressure, temperature, pulse..., especially for young women."
Haemoglobin is gives vital knowledge to guide diagnosis, but until now the time it took to get results back from labs has caused inefficiency in the management of anaemia. With Aptus, doctors and GPs will be given a rapid result and more information to help them solve the daily puzzle of personal ailments.
How can we change national policy for anaemia?
After receiving positive feedback from patients and healthcare professionals, Entia, together with the Anaemia Manifesto Steering Committee, supported an Anaemia Screening Event of MPs at Portcullis House. In our combined efforts to increase awareness of iron deficiency anaemia, which affects more than 4 million people in the UK, we conducted testing on more than 80 MPs, and shared with them our new vision of better blood testing. Member of Parliament, Hugo Swire, as well as Public Health Minister, Steve Brine, took part in the event and had the opportunity to get their haemoglobin levels screened. Both really welcomed this new piece of technology and recognising the advantages:
Member of Parliament, Hugo Swire at the Anaemia Manifesto Steering Committee Screening Event.
"Diagnosis for anaemia and iron deficiency remain disproportionately low, and I encourage any concerned constituents to consult their GP about the matter as soon as possible."
The philosophy of equipping GPs with the tools to help improve the quality of life for iron deficiency anaemia sufferers while easing the burden on the hospital system was very well welcomed, and reaffirmed us of the importance of Aptus’ product launch and the impact it can have in the medical arena.
We welcome you to have a deeper look at Aptus during MEDICA in Düsseldorf, from the 13th to the 16th of November. We will be demonstrating at Hall 3A / 3AB02-4.