Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are surprisingly commonplace among older adults in the U.S. It is the first-listed diagnosis for 880,000 patients at emergency rooms every year. The average patient ends up spending four days in the hospital and more than $26,000 , resulting in $7.7 billion in hospitalization costs every year. Common symptoms include painful urination and a low-grade fever, but UTIs can also result in behavioral changes such as confusion, which can be misinterpreted as dementia. Early diagnosis and treatment is key to dealing with the condition.

Pixie Scientific has developed a smart pad that monitors possible UTI incidents. These disposable pads are used twice a week, placed inside the subject’s briefs. After three hours, the pad is removed and an image of the test patch is scanned using the accompanying smartphone app. The image is transmitted to a healthcare professional, who interprets the results and sends an alert if there are signs of a UTI are detected. The system is available both for managed care facilities and home use.

Systems such as this can provide early detection of illness and other conditions. This not only leads to better outcomes, but it also helps ease the workload for healthcare providers and caregivers. As other smart systems like this become available, they will free up these workers to spend more time with the subjects delivering personal care.