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Impact: 'URinControl', treatment of urine loss through app

Nominee Ben Feringa Impact Award 2024 | Category researcher
06 May 2024
Anne Loohuis
Anne Loohuis

In the coming weeks the nominees for the Ben Feringa Impact Award 2024 will introduce themselves and their impactful research or project. This week: Anne Loohuis , nominated in the category 'researcher' for her research about the treatment of urinary incontinence through the self-help app 'URinControl'.

Who are you?

My name is Anne Loohuis. I am a general practitioner and a researcher-epidemiologist at the department of Primary and Long-term Care at the University Medical Center Groningen. My research focuses on finding ways to measure and amplify the impact of digital innovations in general practice medicine. The URinControl study formed the basis for my PhD research in 2021. I am currently the project leader of the follow-up to the study, the URinControl-4All implementation project. I am conducting this research in collaboration with Professor Marco Blanker and senior researcher Dr Henk van der Worp.

For which faculty do you work?

Faculty of Medical Sciences

What does your research involve?

The URinControl app is a self-managed treatment for accidental urine loss in women. Our research showed that the app works just as well as treatment provided by a GP with cost savings of €160 per patient per year. Our research provides insight into the factors that are important for successful treatment and user experience. The app has been freely and securely available since 2021, and it is mentioned on The implementation focuses on accessibility for vulnerable groups, embedding in healthcare, visibility in the societal domain, and a sustainable funding structure. To this end, we are working together with Curavista BV, Instituut Verantwoord Medicijngebruik (the Dutch Institute for Responsible Use of Medicine; IVM), and Pharos. This makes the project a good example for demonstrating all the important factors in evidence-based eHealth research. 

What is the impact of this research and how does it help society?

There are 1 million women in the Netherlands who suffer from urine loss, yet it is a major taboo, and healthcare is suboptimal. With the URinControl app, currently used by 22,000 women, patients can manage uncomfortable symptoms in an accessible way. This leads to immediate health improvements and cost savings. With attention in the national media and on social media, the app helps normalizing urine loss and minimizing the taboo. The impact on healthcare, policy, and culture is growing thanks to collaboration with professional associations, health insurance companies (VGZ, ONVZ,, and medical and societal parties such as informative websites and pharmacies.

In addition, there are many digital innovations whose impact and applications are still underdeveloped. The research contributes to the science, technology, and policy of evidence-based apps by sharing knowledge on mechanisms and methods, and also by emphasizing the need for a sustainable funding structure with insurance companies and the government. The project provides women with a good alternative treatment for urine loss and creates impact when it comes to developing, evaluating, and implementing digital innovations in healthcare.

What was your motivation for the research? What did you learn from it?

eHealth and apps show up on every policy agenda, but in practice, the result often lags behind. As a GP and researcher, the patient and high-quality healthcare are a priority, and I can safeguard that quality. The URinControl project is challenging and multifaceted due to the variety of research methods, the subsequent phases, and the continuous link with the patient, healthcare, and society at large.

Last modified:22 May 2024 11.03 a.m.
View this page in: Nederlands

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