‘Irritable Bowel Syndrome’ or IBS is a pervasive and debilitating condition affecting millions worldwide. It can steal the normal life-style of any individual affected; for employers and insurance companies, it is tremendously expensive to diagnose and treat, since there is no cure or reliable treatment. For healthcare providers, it is a struggle to find solutions; it’s a dead end with no offerings for suffering patients.
Against this backdrop, I am excited about a new mHealth solution based on a proven clinical strategy of structured psychological intervention (which has been used successfully over two decades as described below) which will be available in the Apple App store very soon. As a behavioral health professional for over thirty years, I was asked by the management of SoundsLikeIBS to review their new patent- pending IBS solution. I have known this group of innovators for over 20 years, having worked with them previously in health-care ventures utilizing their proprietary interactive technology to address a myriad of health issues ranging from clinical cardiac rehab to depression. Their software products continue to be used in major corporations as well as the NHS.
This latest venture into the mobile application space finds them joining with a well-recognized clinical behavioral professional who has dedicated his life’s work to the IBS condition, helping thousands since 1992. Together, they formed a new company to deliver this program into the hands of millions of sufferers at a very low cost.
What follows is an examination of the condition, a review of the current treatment that has largely been ineffective and finally an introduction to a treatment strategy that has been proven successful over more than a decade and which, thanks to technology, is now easily available to those afflicted with IBS.
The scope of IBS is pervasive. Research studies show that the IBS condition exists worldwide; in the US alone, it is estimated that 15% or more of the population (50 million people) show symptoms or may have been diagnosed with IBS at a treatment cost of $10 billion annually.
In addition, indirect costs total $30 billion. IBS is linked to significant emotional distress, impaired quality of life and overall higher healthcare costs. It accounts for 50% of all visits to gastroenterologists each year.
For a condition of this enormity, there is no cure or even a uniform effective therapy. There are over 80 different medications that have been prescribed and despite a large number of published studies on IBS therapies there is no evidence supporting the use of any particular drug.
There is evidence, however, that an effective brain-gut treatment method does reduce abdominal discomfort and the emotional distress associated with IBS symptoms.
What if a cost effective solution were available to IBS patients that could significantly reduce or eliminate patient suffering, is patient centered care, has a low risk patient access point with measured outcomes, and can save millions of dollars?
In fact there is a solution that has been in use for over two decades with an average 90% improvement rate in reducing or eliminating IBS and related symptoms.
Now with over 100,000 users worldwide, this trusted IBS solution, based on a proven psychological intervention, has been utilized after all pharmacological and other treatment methods have proven ineffective or as an option upon initial diagnosis along with conventional care.
This program, a proven clinical management guided imagery protocol based on the use of behavioral principles which bypass cognitive thought is used by St. Mark’s Hospital in London, a national and international referral center for intestinal disorders. The SoundsLikeIBS psychological treatment strategy and app is an effective proven clinical protocol which utilizes autonomic processes to create new ways of thinking and symptom management, resulting in symptom improvement or elimination.
The app is designed to guide you through 5 therapy sessions that ultimately result in your ability to manage and control your IBS symptoms so that you can lead a normal life again. The program comprises 3 steps (a clear introduction, 5 therapeutic sessions, plus an additional bonus track explaining IBS for family members) that have been developed over a period of years based on the successful treatment of clinical patients in the UK by Michael Mahoney, C.Hyp, CMH, LiHp.
Encouraged by these improved patients, Michael decided to bring the solution to others remotely, first on cassette in 1998 and later on CD and MP3. The app, shortly available on Apple App Store for $9.99 now delivers your daily program at your convenience and monitors your progress.
A model for value-based purchasing, the related Pro App enables healthcare providers, (with permission) and those managing rising risk populations to monitor the progress of each patient and have access to all patients data within the IBS population. Thus, the app and Pro App are building-blocks in any population health infrastructure for IBS and related maladies at a cost well below the amounts being spent today.
The SoundsLikeIBS app and Pro App are truly a disruptive transformation in delivering measured results at substantial cost savings. Proponents of translational medicine will recognize the benefits brought by the SoundsLikeIBS App and Pro App, bringing proven methodologies within new technology, increasing swiftness of treatment delivery to patients, and the benefits of unique data analysis tools to research and medical professionals.
Benefits of the program to patients include:
- No delay in treatment
- Better patient compliance with home use
- Less potential for comorbid conditions
- Greater patient satisfaction
- Provides ongoing measurement of success including instructional guide with listening schedule, symptom checklist and program log
- Full program can be repeated as needed
- No side effects
- No travel or loss of work time
- Better user compliance
Benefits to Payors
- Reduction or elimination of prescription medications and supplemental cost/claims
- Decrease in patient office visits
- Fewer diagnostic tests
- Reduced cost of in person therapy
- Less unnecessary surgeries
Based on my experience, this mHealth App is a disruptive force in the treatment of IBS. I encourage you to visit the website at www.soundslikeibs.com to learn more about this exciting product.