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Smartphone tech in patient care - is this the future?

As the app can log all user actions, you now also get the possibility of creating patient follow up reports based on live collected data - useful both for routine visits and trouble shooting

Smartphone applications and eHealth solutions are currently spreading across the entire field of health care. As with all trends, this technology will not be useful everywhere -people generally still need to see their physician in real life. However, these solutions will fill the needs in some areas better than others -and bariatric surgery follow up might just be one of the best examples of that.

The relevant question here is: what can a smartphone do better than traditional health care? Well, it can do actions daily and for any period of time -it never gives up, nor runs out of time or staff resources. Neither is it limited by the geographic distance between the patient and the clinic -since the phone always will be in the hand or pocket of the user.

This article was authored by Dr Carl-Magnus Broden, Gastroenterolgy, Obesity Medicine and Co-creator of BariBuddy, Viken, Sweden

As I described in a previous article in Bariatric News ahead of IFSO in London 2017 (BariBuddy mobile app - postoperative follow-up 2.0?), our application BariBuddy is aimed at providing daily reminders and compliance support to bariatric patients pre and post surgery.

BariBuddy versions 1 and 2

As version 1 last year was focused on the patient perspective, version 2 now adds benefits from the responsible clinic's point of view. BariBuddy 2.0 is available and accessible in two ways: individual download and subscription from App Store or Google Play, or clinics purchasing app licenses for their patients. The license option includes tailoring of the content to suit and be valid for the respective clinic. This tailoring of app content to a specific clinical setting has the potential of both increasing daily patient compliance (the patient just "follows" the app's pushed reminders as they come) and decreasing the routine question workload on the clinical staff (as the patients become more self sufficient in finding info, via the app databases). As the app can log all user actions, you now also get the possibility of creating patient follow up reports based on live collected data -useful both for routine visits and trouble shooting. The first clinics to incorporate tailored versions of our app into their clinical packages are Aleris and CFTK, two of the largest centres in Scandinavia.

So what next?

Adding new language versions will enable use for a larger number of patients. The daily reminder functionalities combined with in-app FAQ and a local real life support setup has the potential of helping all those who have already had their bariatric procedure, but over time start experiencing weight regain. This "get back on track" method hopefully also addressing the risk of people forgetting about their vitamin supplements.

Possibilities in the longer term (and dependent of the technical development of future app versions, permissions, etc.) include quality registry collaborations as well as the potential of using live generated app data for clinical research.

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