Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of chronic inflammatory disorders of the intestine, which include Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). IBD has a relapsing and remitting course and it adversely affects the quality of life and social interaction.
Currently, 3 million Americans live with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data.
IBD affects women and men equally, however, women report more negative effects on their quality of life and more problems with particular symptoms, which some researchers attribute to different gender expectations.
Anyone living with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, whether woman or man, knows how much effort and organization it takes to stay well from day to day.
Most of us, who don't deal with IBD on a daily basis can't imagine what it's like to live with this chronic, life-altering condition. Yes, we may have had occasional gastrointestinal disturbances, such as diarrhea or abdominal pain, but that's nothing like living with Crohn's or ulcerative colitis, which is a "different game," even when compared to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
The unplanned trips to the bathroom aren't the only nuisance of IBD. These autoimmune diseases can cause inflammation that can happen throughout the gastrointestinal tract, as well as other symptoms that range from fatigue and night sweats to bowel obstruction and uveitis (eye inflammation).
Just like with any other chronic condition, keeping IBD under control require patients to track their symptoms and treatment. However, this task would be complex and daunting without mobile technologies.
There are many mobile apps that could help people living with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis track their symptoms and treatments, stay reminded about their medication use, monitor stress levels, locate a bathroom, and connect with other people living with IBD.
These mobile apps provide IBD patients with a plenty of useful information about diseases, as well as dietary and lifestyle options, allowing patients to maintain greater control over their disease, and also helping doctors understand what is happening between appointments.
The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) recently released My IBD Manager app, which works as a mobile tracking tool designed to help patients who are struggling with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis, as well as the doctors who treat these patients.
AGA also plan to launch an online clinical platform for healthcare professionals called Ask AGA: IBD, which would work together with the app through information-sharing capabilities to enhance the provider/patient relationship and provide a solution for patients to learn about IBD, monitor their disease, and share information with their healthcare provider that result in better health outcomes.
My IBD Manager app requires users to log in or create an account in order to use the app. Registration requires basic information, such as email, name, DoB, gender, and the type of IBD the users have, i.e. Crohn's, ulcerative colitis, or not listed.
Users are also required to enter additional information, including height, weight, ZIP code, city, and state.
After the registration has been completed, the app would open to My Patient Companion page, notifying users about the percentage of their profile completion, and prompting them to add treatments, their care team, or educational resources.
Adding care team means adding your clinician(s) and their contact info to the app, which doesn't happen automatically, meaning it has to be approved by the app. I'm not sure how long does it take because it's been 48 hours since I've added clinicians and they still haven't been approved.
Also, you can't add educational materials until your care team has been approved by the app.
You can, however, use the app as a tracker, allowing you to monitor dosing and schedule of your treatment. You can set treatment type, by choosing from medication and dietary supplements to physical therapy and surgery.
Choosing medications provides an exhaustive list of drugs (generic and brand names) used to treat IBD. The medications are listed alphabetically, from adalimumab to Humira to Zodex, but it would be much better if they're grouped by their function, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, immune system suppressors, antibiotics, and so on.
Some entries in this list are confusing, so you'd find Pain reliever, Other, Laxative, and similar general terms among the medication names.
You can set the treatment duration and cycle, i.e. how often you take it. It can be As needed, or as prescribed. Here you can set the time and add a reminder to the calendar. While I was reviewing the app, reminder didn't work when I was outside the app, doing other things on my phone, but it worked when I was using the app.
The cause of this could be session expiration. Yes, you've heard it right. A session expiration in a mobile app, which is set to log you out after 5 minutes of inactivity.
Asking you to log in constantly becomes frustrating really fast, not to mention that this session expiration prevents important features, such as medication reminders from working.
The app allows users to keep their daily journal to log and monitor their mood, pain levels, ability to keep social plans and well-being and to track symptoms and activity.
Users can add other conditions as well that may affect or interfere with their IBD, and add foods to the Food log for tracking diet and nutrition.
Although the app developers promised expert-reviewed, easy-to-read patient education on IBD-related topics, there's none in the app, probably until the clinician/care team has been approved by the app.
My IBD Manager app also awards points for using the app, such as adding treatment or logs into a journal, but these points have no practical use.
Users can view the charts with their progress and print them, yet not share them with their doctor. The app's interface is easy to use, however, painfully slow at times.
The app is currently available for free only on iOS devices, and the developers plan to make it available for Android devices as well.
Overall, My IBD Manager app is an interesting, yet still not perfected medication and symptom tracker and diary log journal for patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn's, and ulcerative colitis.
Benefit: Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn's, and ulcerative colitis, and their healthcare providers.