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Southampton health professionals use innovative app to understand bowel diseases

A group of health professionals, including doctors, nurses and researchers at University Hospital Southampton have used an new 24-hour app that allows them to understand the impacts of bowel diseases on patients.

The 'In My Shoes' app launched across the UK today (Tuesday 19th, November 2019) and it allows health professionals to explore the effects of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

These chronic conditions effect over 300,000 people across the UK and are the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

They results in fatigue, significant abdominal pain, malnutrition and severe diarrhoea.

The app - which was developed by national charity Chron's & Colitis UK and Takeda UK - delivers notifications to user prompting them about the type of foods that trigger symptoms and a warning to find a nearby toilet.

It aims to incite conversations between patients and healthcare teams, as well as break down stigmas surrounding IBD.

Anne Sanderson, clinical nurse specialist in gastroenterology at UHS, said:

“The app is a great way for us to have a conversation with our IBD patients about what they’re going through and it has really helped us relate to them in a very different way and a way we haven’t before,”

“I wondered if the app would tell me something I didn’t already know about what our patients go through.

"However, it was very interesting to have to think constantly about where were the nearest toilets – not knowing when that urge would come and whether or not to stay in to be safe or go out and run the risk of an accident.”

“I think, aside from healthcare professionals, for friends and family with no insight this will be a great way of having a small understanding of what the patient goes through.” 

Patient Michelle Ripley, 26, from Southampton, has had three operations after being diagnosed with Chron's disease at 19 years of age and also has a restricted diet.

“IBD has affected every aspect of my life and it can be difficult when people don’t always realise or understand what a struggle it can be and how serious it is,” she said. 

“My boyfriend Alex and mum Pam, who has been through every step of the journey with me, have both used the app and agreed they had never truly realised the extent of the condition and the immense strain it causes.”  

CEO of Crohn’s and Colitis UK, Sarah Fleet, said:

"Understanding what people with Crohn's and colitis go through is so important to improve the lives of everybody living with these debilitating conditions.

"The In My Shoes app sparks conversations that soon lead to practical things we can all do to help.”

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