By 2022, the lateral flow diagnostics market is expected to grow by a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.2%, up from $5.5bn in 2017 (Source: MarketsandMarkets.com). All industries are looking towards rapid mobile analysis in order to streamline the testing process and improve outcomes for stakeholders. In this article, we explore who is benefiting from the use of lateral flow Smartphone readers and why affordability is driving the use of this value-for-money testing solution.
Diagnostics-data is becoming an increasingly important commodity in gaining insight for the purpose of establishing improvements or solutions. But, capturing data can be hindered if the technology being used is not connected to data silos or data capture involves manual input; which in turn can impact on labour time and budgets. With Smartphone readers, data can be captured in-situ and shared via readily available connectivity technology such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, for example.
This explains why a company may want an assay developing, in order to offer their customers a positive user-experience at a reasonable price, but where does the affordability come into it in regards to developing an assay?
Lateral flow rapid tests by their nature are easy to use; that doesn’t mean to say it is simple to develop and manufacture, but, the materials needed to make the tests allow for more cost-effective development and manufacture process in comparison to some other diagnostic methods. When combining lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA) development with the customisation of an App that can integrate with the readily available camera and connectivity technology within Smartphones it becomes obvious where the affordability lies.
Basically, in regards to the App, the technology has already gone through its own development phases in terms of how the App interacts with the Smartphone, meaning a vast proportion of the validation work has been done – it’s a case of customising the App’s algorithms to meet assay output requirements.
The need to upgrade the functionality of a lateral flow product can mean the product needs to move with trends or a company wants to take advantage of a gap/opportunity in the market. So, transitioning an LFIA from a qualitative lateral flow test to a test that can produce workable data needs to be swift enough to avoid a significant dip in sales income or avoid missing market opportunities.
In most cases, unlike in the assay developer example above, there is no need to adapt the LFIA itself: it is only the Smartphone lateral flow reader App that needs to be configured with the LFIA. Also, as mentioned an App has already gone through a number of validation stages and therefore turnaround times for App customisation can be done in a timely manner.
Both lateral flow tests and Smartphones are portable and compact and therefore can be transported easily to the testing location. Then via connective technology, data can be transferred from A to B to Z easily and quickly.
The user-friendliness and cost-effective accessibility of the technology – lateral flow tests via regular mail services and Apps via online App stores, in most cases for free – opens up testing opportunities for people in remote areas, those working across large areas or those who need to test on a regular basis.
Also, for diagnosticians and testing professionals, it allows them to incorporate lateral flow Smartphone readers easily into routine testing with minimal disruption because the technology can be sourced simply.
For people testing at home, they can get access to the tests without the need to leave home, which also offers an element of anonymity for the person doing the testing. In addition the patient can save costs and time by reducing the need to visit the doctor as often: of course, fewer people visiting clinics frees up time for other patient interactions.
Early and rapid diagnosis and data capture is a hot topic, and rightly so; in fact in February 2019, Cancer Research UK held a conference on this topic. Also, the global rapid diagnostic kits market is expected to reach US$28.885 billion by 2023 (Source: ResearchAndMarkets.com).
So to facilitate the growing demand in this area requires a tool that can be incorporated into testing protocols relatively easily and at a cost that is not going to hinder the developer, supplier or end-user. Of course, this is where lateral flow Smartphone readers offer many benefits and why the demand for this value-for-money testing solution is on the increase.
If you are contemplating the use of lateral flow Smartphone readers for routine diagnostics and testing, please download our AppDx brochure to learn about the technology available with Abingdon Health.