Tens of thousands of Americans end in the emergency rooms every year, because of allergic reactions. The food often causes these allergic reactions, with milk, wheat, and eggs being the main culprits.
Food intolerance is another common problem for many people. Although not as bad as the food allergy, food intolerance can cause many unpleasant symptoms, such as fatigue or bloating.
The most common and best-known food intolerance is intolerance of gluten, a family of proteins found in various grains including wheat, rye, spelt, and barley.
Another, more severe form of gluten intolerance is celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system responds abnormally to gluten.
Both conditions are linked to many health issues ranging from digestive problems to anxiety and anemia.
In order to avoid these issues, people with gluten intolerance and celiac disease need to stick to a safe and proven gluten-free diet and avoid bread, cereals, and most beers.
This is relatively easy to achieve when eating and cooking at home. However, finding a restaurant that offers good gluten-free options when eating out or traveling could be a challenging task.
Luckily, many mobile apps have been developed to help people with gluten intolerance and all others who want to maintain a diet free of allergens and additives, find the best places to eat healthily.
Find Me Gluten Free is one of those apps. It allows people with gluten intolerance and celiac disease search for local restaurants that offer gluten-free options, as well as those that have a dedicated gluten-free menu.
The app does this with the help of interactive maps and the user reviews of the best gluten-friendly restaurants in the local area.
Can you tell us the story behind your mobile app? Where did the idea for your app come from? What served as your inspiration for the app?
I was diagnosed with celiac disease when I was 23. I quickly found it difficult to travel and socialize without doing prior research, so I started developing a way to make it easier for me and consequently everyone else.
How did you build the content that's contained in the app? Does the information in your app come from evidence-based resources, such as scientific literature, peer-reviewed articles and case studies?
Personal research initially and now it is largely crowd-sourced.
What impact has your app had on clinical practice so far? We'd appreciate if you could share some stats on how frequently your app is used worldwide.
We have 3 million people use our website or one of our apps every year.
What are the tools and technologies used to build your mobile app (both cloud- and client-side)? Was it native or cross-platform development? Did you consider other technologies?
Native. Did not seriously consider other options.
What were the main challenges you had to overcome when developing your app? Could you please single out the biggest technical challenges, product challenges, marketing challenges, and support challenges?
Getting people to contribute reviews is consistently very challenging.
Could you single out the 3 biggest mistakes you made when developing the 'Find Me Gluten Free' app?
1. We didn't quickly enough get people to the main content they were interested in.
2. Making user interface changes without any on-screen tutorial.
3. Not adding a premium version sooner.
When it comes to medical apps, sooner or later the issue of data protection and security always comes up. How do you make sure that user data is secure?
We don't store very much user data, to begin with. Other than that, we use very secure, tested storage platforms.
What's next for your app? Are there any new features, functionalities, or upgrades planned for future updates?
Making changes to make it easier to leave better reviews on restaurants.
We are excited about the technologies and what they might hold for the healthcare and the future of medicine. What do you think this technology-driven, human-centered future holds for mobile health and how do your app plan to contribute?
We allow people to eat more safely and have better options no matter where they are.
Could you share some word of advice with other mobile app developers? What steps they should follow in order to make a successful app?
Figure out what functionality is absolutely necessary and release that as quickly as possible!