University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust has announced a partnership with Digostics, to pilot gestational diabetes testing at home.

The project will see expectant mothers under the trust’s service become the first in the world to access the ground-breaking technology enabling remote testing for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). The pilot will use GTT@home, the only regulatory-approved home-use oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) testing solution, developed by Digostics.

The OGTT fasting test is the only recommended test for detecting the condition in mums-to-be. The test can take most of a morning to complete and as it’s only available in-clinic, it can present provisioning challenges, as well as inconvenience for patients.

The home-test solution being piloted combines new testing technologies with NFC wireless functionality. This allows users to send their test data immediately to their healthcare team via a smartphone. Home testing should lead to results being returned more quickly, allowing for speedy treatment and management if the condition is detected.

“We hope this revolutionary new at-home test is going to dramatically change the way we deliver gestational diabetes testing during antenatal care,” said Matthew Coleman, consultant obstetrician, University Hospital Southampton. “Not only is it better for the patients to self-test in the convenience of their own home, cutting down the number of antenatal appointments they attend, but it will also free up precious NHS time and resources.”

The GTT@home service will post home test kits to expectant mums under the care of University Hospital Southampton, when the test is due. The kits contain the GTT@home test device, a glucose drink and finger prickers. Easy-to-follow instructions, online guidance and telephone support are available to help to ensure it’s completed successfully.

Although the patient can post a snap-off fob attached to the test device for processing, it’s also possible to send results in real-time with a smartphone. Patients can use the GTT@home mobile app, which is enabled by near field communication (NFC) functionality within the device.

James Jackson, CEO and founder of Digostics, said: “Our aim is to demonstrate how we can transform diabetes detection in pregnancy by taking the OGTT to the expectant mother, resulting in increased test uptake, reductions in test overheads for healthcare providers and the earlier return of GDM diagnoses.”

The GTT@home testing service also includes a software platform to enable antenatal care teams to schedule tests and view patient results.

The Welsh government has also been making a significant investment in its maternity services. This year it announced plans to invest £7m in improving the care that women and babies receive, with the implementation of a country-wide, unified digital system.