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How scaling tech is helping England eradicate hepatitis C

By Andrew Barham, Chief Technology Officer at Preventx



In the battle against hepatitis C as a public health threat, innovative technology has emerged as a game-changer.

This comes following the launch of NHS England and Preventx’s ground-breaking remote testing service for hepatitis C.

Supporting local services to scale up and thus boosting testing numbers at a national level, this new service is set to put England ahead of World Health Organization (WHO) eradication targets.

It is estimated that, in 2019, around 118,000 people in the UK had chronic hepatitis C.

Worryingly, two-thirds of those living with the virus are likely unaware of their condition, partly because people with the virus’ can remain asymptomatic for many years but also because of limited wide-scale routes to testing.

If left untreated, the virus can lead to severe liver damage, cirrhosis, and even liver cancer.

Preventx and NHS England have partnered to increase uptake of testing across England, through a new remote self-testing service for hepatitis C.

This digital service, designed by Preventx, marks a significant milestone in the national fight against hepatitis C.

Having already partnered with more than 70 English local authorities to improve access to testing across a variety of disease areas, this new partnership will enable us to tackle issues at national scale.

It will also play a vital role in NHS England meeting their hepatitis C elimination targets ahead of WHO’s objective to eliminate hepatitis C by 2030.

Crucial to the effectiveness of the service was launching an accessible, co-designed testing service.

First, we needed to understand any potential barriers to use, so we took a user-centric approach to service design.

We conducted research with key stakeholders, clinicians, and target user groups.

Our research commenced with a workshop, followed by one-on-one interviews, and then group discussions.

We built on the experience of individuals, gaining invaluable insights into potential concerns, challenges and issues that might be felt by service users.

Our approach enabled the design of a simplified, mobile-first solution that encourages more people across England to get tested for hepatitis C.

The new testing service for hepatitis C uses Preventx’s cutting-edge technology, efficient self-sampling services and state-of-the-art in-house laboratory to provide a discrete, reliable, and convenient service, with delivery available to any UK address.

Our scalable and resilient technology seamlessly integrates with NHS systems, ensuring a both a smooth transition and fit-for-purpose service.

And with an impressive turnaround time on results, users can rest assured knowing they will receive results within three days at the very latest.

This improved efficiency and technology will not only bolster current testing rates but also ensure timely treatment for individuals who test positive.

Whilst risk factors for hepatitis C are multifaced, many of the groups at greatest risk of contracting hepatitis C are less likely to use traditional services.

By offering this pioneering remote service, we aim to ensure that no one is left behind.

With associated stigma and busy schedules often a barrier to traditional services, we know that that remote diagnostics can help to improve uptake of testing in these communities.

Preventx are honoured to be contributing to this remarkable public health service, with the NHS on track to eliminate hepatitis C in England by 2025 – five years ahead of the global targets set by the WHO.

Through the integration of innovative technology, and with our commitment to make testing accessible to all, we are confident that our remote testing service will play a vital part in the NHS’ hepatitis C elimination ambition.

By providing an accessible and complete offering for all patients, we can ensure a healthier future for all.

Visit the new self-testing service for hepatitis C: http://hepctest.nhs.uk/ref/px4

About Preventx

Preventx is the largest provider of remote sexual health testing in the UK.

We are a trusted partner, supplier and adviser to the NHS and local authorities across the UK, and through Sexual Health London we partner with the NHS to run the largest publicly funded remote sexual health testing programme anywhere in the world.

Through our innovative digital tech and expert integrated laboratory, we aim to make remote testing a convenient, reliable and normal part of looking after your health.


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