The Belly Buddy: helper for people with intestinal diseases

The Belly Buddy. That is the name of a new app, intended for patients with chronic intestinal diseases. The app can not only serve as a reminder for taking medication, it also helps to monitor one’s own illness. In addition, the app is useful on the road, because you can find the nearest toilet. The app is a discovery of the DM Creative Communications agency. Marco Mok is director of the agency, but is also a bowel patient himself. Who knows better how to develop an app that will really benefit someone with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis? The Belly Buddy. That is the name of the app that was developed by the DM Creative Communications agency on behalf of MSD. The app has already been nominated twice for an award: first it was the Innovation Award, and now there is also a nomination for the Health App Award 2012. Apparently the app is a remarkable case among the growing number of apps that are launched every day.

Director, but also an ulcerative colitis patient

Marco Mok is director of DM Creative Communications, an agency based in Haarlem. But Mok has also been struggling with a chronic intestinal disease, ulcerative colitis, for years. Now it happens that Mok’s agency has a number of pharmaceutical companies as clients, and is also following the trend of developing apps and other forms of digital communication. One thing led to another and Mok’s agency created the BuikBuddy on behalf of the pharmaceutical company MSD. MSD focuses, among other things, on treatments for people with chronic intestinal disorders. The app is intended to help patients with chronic intestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease to simplify their complicated lives. The BuikBuddy app is available for use on both iPhone and Android.

Intestinal diseases make your life difficult

Marco Mok has ulcerative colitis, but his wife has the equally well-known other chronic intestinal disease, Crohn’s disease. Marco Mok: “I knew from experience how much trouble it can cause for you as a patient. That’s why I was happy that MSD placed that assignment with us. I think we can help many patients to live a little easier by developing an app with a lot of functionality. Together with MSD we spent a lot of time on development.”

Hidden suffering: 50,000 people with chronic intestinal disease

Because people often prefer not to talk about it and intestinal diseases are often concealed where possible, not everyone knows that no fewer than 50,000 people in the Netherlands alone suffer from a chronic intestinal disease. It is estimated that several thousand more patients are added every year. Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammation of the colon and rectum, while Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammation of the intestine. 

The toilet finder

Not only do the intestines function more erratically due to the disease, it is also important for patients to deal with the physical processes as naturally as possible: there is no need to stop thoughtlessly. Because of all this, regular and acute use of the toilet is important for patients. Mok: “That is why we have also included a toilet finder in the app. Anyone who has to go to the toilet in a strange environment does not have to wonder where the nearest one is.”

Monitoring your disease progression

However, the app does a lot more than locating public toilets. The monitor function is of great use to properly record your own disease progress, and the reminder to take medication on time. Because chronic intestinal diseases require an adapted diet, the Belly Buddy also has a cookbook module. Marco Mok: “With an app like this, patients can monitor their disease better, provide hospitals with better information and present information to doctors better. Apps are the future for the medical sector.” The BuikBuddy app can be downloaded free of charge from the Apple App Store and Google Play, the former Android Market.

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