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Bariatric App

BariMate – the app for bariatric surgery

There are over 300,000 different applications (‘apps’) available to download from iTunes and these apps allow users to perform a whole range of activities from playing games to ordering shopping. There is even an app for patients who have had bariatric surgery or are considering it. Called ‘BariMate’, it is one of the first weight management apps written specifically for bariatric surgery patients. BariMate designer, Dr Leon Cohen, Mercy Bariatrics, Perth, Australia, talks about the benefits of the application.

“I have always been an enthusiastic gadget guy and loved the iPhone when it was first released,” said Leon Cohen. “Of course, if you like gadgets and the iPhone, you love all the associated applications as well, and I suddenly thought, there should be an app for bariatric surgery patients so they can keep track of their weight changes, or their body mass index.”

The idea was very simple, an app that allows patients to make informed choices about the different procedures of bariatric surgery, as well as gaining helpful tips on diet or updating their personal information such as body mass index or their percentage excess weight loss. “The idea was that the app would not only give patients information on bariatric surgery, how the procedures are performed etc, but it would go one step further and give them to the ability to update their data, to own their data,” he added. 

After speaking with his surgical colleagues, dieticians, exercise physiologists and other health professionals with an interest in bariatric patients, Cohen was encouraged by their response. “Their initial response was very enthusiastic and they thought the concept was very interesting, the next problem was finding a developer who could write the software for the app.”

Unfortunately, finding a developer within Cohen’s budget proved something of an issue, after he was quoted what he calls “outrageous amounts”. Thankfully, towards the end of 2009, he found a developer in Sydney who could write the app for “a more reasonable cost” and the creation of an app for bariatric patients began.

The next issue was what to call the app. “We thought is should be friendly, something like Baribuddy or Teddybear,” explained Cohen. “And in the end, perhaps because I’m Australian, we came up with BariMate.” The original version was launched in May 2010 and has since undergone several updates, culminating with the current 1.4 version. 

“Of course, there have been some teething problems. Perhaps most noticeably, we have now included both imperial and metric measurements, so now patients and physicians in the US can enter their data.”

Sub apps

The app includes nine sub apps (briefly described below), designed by healthcare professionals, each with a specific role aimed at informing the patient (and their doctor) of their progress.

  • About Me – this records a patient’s initial body parameters, giving a baseline against which a patient’s progress can be measured following surgery.

  • Inspire Me – this allows a patient’s family and friends to post encouraging messages 

  • Feed Me – some useful dietary advice, simple food suggestions and golden rules for adjustable band eating etiquette. Each meal listed contains between 200-300 calories to help keep the patient on track and satisfied. 

  • Inform Me – information about bariatric operations, links to videos on the procedures and information on health problems, such as sleep apnoea. 

  • Track/Report Me – allows patients to record their weight loss at intervals and see how their body indices are changing, as well as collating a patient’s weight loss data, graphs and photos onto one sheet that can be emailed to their surgeon as a PDF file. 

  • Show Me – allows patients to track their photographic record and see how their body changes as they lose weight.

  • Predict Me - visual prediction of how your body shape might look as a patient’s BMI changes. 

  • Fill Me – an interactive estimator as to whether a patient’s band is at the right level of fill based on 7 questions and Paul O’Brien’s orange, green and red band zone concept. 

  • Graph Me – a patient can see their results graphically for the important indices of weight loss, BMI and excess weight loss as absolute values and percentages.

The future

“We currently have several new elements in the pipeline that we may add to future versions”, said Cohen. “For example, ‘Support Me’ is an addition that will offer information with patients support groups, we will also offer ‘Move Me’ with advice on exercise and ‘Success Me’ that will measure and keep track of the patient’s progress.” “Hopefully, these additions offer further information, advice and support to bariatric patients around the world.”