An App in New Zealand Allows IBD Patients to Communicate with Their Specialists Virtually


Researchers at the University of Otago, led by Michael Shultz, have developed a new app called IBDsmart to help patients with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease receive care remotely.

These conditions are lifelong and even with medication, flares are unpredictable.

The new app helps patients to monitor their symptoms and allows them to have telephone consultations with their doctors. Patients can submit their information on the app itself or through text. It can also easily assess which patients should have priority for an in-person appointment if needed.  

When patient’s flares do not receive the care they need in a timely manner, patients can be forced to go to the hospital. We can avoid this by ensuring care is given from the first moment it is needed. The issue is, during this pandemic, many patients are not able to go to in-person appointments due to the fact that they take immunosuppressive medications. Even for those who are willing to take the risk, there are long wait lists for appointments, as well as a shortage of available gastroenterologists.

This app will allow patients to have immediate answers to their questions, virtual conversations with their specialists, and information on what action steps they should take to monitor their disease at home, avoiding intervention in a hospital.

How it Came About and How You Can Get it

The development of this app would not have been possible without donations from the Crohn’s and Colitis New Zealand Charitable Trust and Stratos Technology Partners.

After creation, the app was tested in a trial with 100 patients. They compared data from patients using the app with those who were seeing their specialists in person to compare outcomes. They monitored all participants for one year and found that there were no differences in health outcomes for the patients, regardless of which way they received their care. The findings from this trial were published in the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases journal.

The app is now being launched across New Zealand. If you are interested in downloading the app, contact your IBD specialist. The app is free, thanks to financial support the company has been receiving.

You can read more about this new app here.

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