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Manage complex medical conditions with iBiomed

David Winograd

iBiomed is not for everyone. It's a niche app designed for detailed tracking of care management for patients with complex medical conditions, such as autism. Once set up (and that can be a bit daunting), a care-giver can take control of everything related to the care of a patient. iBiomed is totally flexible, allowing a user to input all pertinent information and keep historical track of everything involving the patient. It can send push alarms, too, when it's time to administer the next dosage of any supplement, medicine, or test. That just scratches the surface of what this amazingly-flexible, multifaceted, and free app can do.

Walking you through its functions will give you a good idea of just how detailed and important this app can be for care-givers. You start by creating a patient profile, including name, birth date, and sex. From there, you fill in information about the treatment history of the patient. Beginning with diagnoses, you can enter information for each one, be it autism, allergies, or any other problem. Descriptions can be added for each condition.

Next, using a summary treatment screen, you can enter information which details required supplements, medicines, tests, diets, and alternative treatments. Once you get the hang of entering one topic, which is detailed and can take some time, it gets easier since most of the input modules are quite similar. For example, when entering supplements, the required information includes the name of the supplement, the start date, what quantity comprises a dose, and the dosing frequency. A stop date is optional, and any notes you would like to enter are also optional. The same is true for medicines and a number of other items. Each item needs to be input and saved individually, which can take some time.

Gallery: iBiomed Gallery | 6 Photos

Entering information regarding tests is a bit different and requires additional information. If a test can be quantified, such as blood sugar or weight, there is the option of entering numbers for a high and low value. Test frequency must also be entered from a seven item list including daily, every other day, every third day, weekly, monthly, yearly and as needed. Each time a test, supplement, or medication is given, the results are entered.

When you are finished creating the profile, you'll find that reporting is the strongest part of iBiomed. It provides a lot of critical information. You can view a summary screen broken down by category, showing each item in a separate tab along with dosing information. Tapping on one of these tabs brings up details of everything you've entered about that item. Tapping on a history button from the profiles screen displays a listing, again by category, of each item along with how long ago treatment started in years, months and days. You also have the option to review items by any particular date, which shows all the items and how many times a day they should be given. Everything you input builds a database of all treatment options, and the app keeps an extensive record of everything that can be easily viewed at any time in a number of ways.

Tapping on an item's tab shows a detailed screen that includes your description, notes, and details -- including when the item was first administered, how often it should be taken or performed, when that was last done, when the next one should be given, and if reminders have been set. If it's a medication or supplement, you can also see how long your supply will last, prompting you to re-stock. You also have the option of checking any particular day to see what occurred at that point.

Once you use iBiomed for a period of time, it provides historical data. If a treatment with a high and low numerical parameter was set, you are shown a scrolling, dated list of numbers with items inside your parameters marked in green. Numbers that fall outside the expected range are shown in red, acting as a warning.

Reminders can be set for just about everything, which is a very useful function of iBIomed. If a particular supplement or medication must be administered at a set time in a set dosage, you can enter this information. When the time of the next dosage occurs, iBiomed sends a push alert telling you just how much to give and in what dosage. Then you would enter the fact that the dosage was given. If you have given all the defined dosages, iBiomed alerts you to that fact, preventing overdosing along with other pertinent information. You can keep journals as often as you like, providing a running story of the progress or regress of the patient.

iBiomed also includes an online health forum where you can write an entry titled with the medical problem and send it to the iBiomed community, where others concerned with a similar condition can read it and respond. When someone responds, you can read their response either via push notifications or email. Email also allows you to send a full report (or any items you choose) to a health care provider; this gives the doctor full, detailed information on the progress of the patient without throwing you out of the app. Very nice touch. Keep in mind this is a time-limited function of the free app: you have two weeks of emailing capabilities before you must use the in-app purchase to continue emailing.

The free app has some limitations, but it will probably serve most caregivers' needs. However, if you need more than the free app offers, there is an in-app purchase for US$12.99 that increases iBiomed's functions dramatically. The paid app increases the number of patient profiles from two to as many as you want. It removes the limitation of saving a maximum of 10 supplements, medicines, diets and treatments. It allows as much diagnostic emailing as you like, and it adds two more functions that may be very important to a caregiver. The paid version enables an evaluation module, where in a free-form manner anything like mood, sleep patterns, or whatever you might deem important can be entered along with a zero to 10 legend that you can define. For example, if you are tracking mood, you can note that zero equals happy and cheerful, while 10 equals extremely angry and violent. Each day, you use a slider to move to the correct number, and the result is saved. This can be done for as many parameters as you wish. After the app acquires a bit of history, you can access a line chart with each parameter denoted by a different color to track progress.

With the paid version you can also upload an entire profile to the iBiomed server, then share the profile to an iBiomed owner on another iOS device. iBiomed sends an email with a code; after the code is entered, the app uploads the guest profile to another copy of iBiomed. I can see the value of this, but the implementation needs a splash screen saying it's working, since it can take long enough that a user might think the app became frozen. It would also be useful to include a sample profile, not for someone to use, but just to show how a completed profile looks.

iBiomed is quite complex, so you need a good deal of guidance to get started. Nine short videos show you how all the options work; however, though useful, the videos have two problems. First, they have no narration, which is necessary for clarification. Second, many of the videos look nearly the same. A persistent title on each would be a big help.

iBiomed is a universal app that scales up to the screen of an iPad pretty well for most of the functions, but the videos, pulled from YouTube, only fill a portion of the iPad's screen (the developer is trying to find a way around this). Since a lot of the information and all of the push alert reminders are time sensitive, portability is a huge concern. Because of that, iBiomed seems better-suited to the iPhone or iPod touch than the iPad, since having this information in a caregiver's pocket seems much more useful than on a tablet.

iBiomed was created by Kwame Iwegbue, a West African physician who immigrated to South Carolina with his wife. He built the app for their three-and-a-half year old son, who was diagnosed with autism in 2009, and one of their daughters, who has allergies and asthma. Iwegbue's son was taking 25 supplements and three medications, was on three different diets, and was seen by two occupational therapists, two speech therapists, and one accupuncturist. The amount of information all these professionals provided was more than Iwegbue could handle, so he needed some method of keeping track of it all. It became quickly apparent that no matter how organized they might be, many people could not keep track of this amount of information. Regardless of what combinations of medical conditions were involved, millions of other families could benefit from something that handled intense record keeping and enabled understanding and recognition of patterns through historical data and charts. So Iwegbue created version after version of iBiomed, finally coming up with one that, although complex, rewards any caregiver with a home patient-management system whose likes have never been seen in the App Store.

This is a very special app. It can help parents and relatives of people caring for patients with many doctors, many treatments, and quite complex medical conditions. I truly hope that the people who need it find and download iBiomed. As is the case for the Iwegbue family, it can be a life changer.

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