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The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America's GI Buddy App Available on iTunes

NEW YORK, Jan. 28, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America has launched a new, interactive disease management tracker, GI Buddy (available online and as an iPhone® app), and enhancements to its I'll Be Determined website (www.ibdetermined.org). GI Buddy allows users to manage and track all aspects of their disease and create a comprehensive view of disease impact including: symptoms, treatment, diet, and lifestyle.

Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, collectively known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), are chronic, relapsing inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract that significantly affect patients both physically and emotionally. Given the unpredictable nature of IBD, it requires that patients actively manage and report on their disease. However, few tools currently exist to promote self-management and optimize patient-physician communication across all aspects of the disease.

"As leaders in patient education and support, the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) developed GI Buddy with the goal of engaging the patient in management of their illness and ultimately improving the patient's quality of life," said Raymond Cross, MD, co-chair of CCFA's Patient Education Committee and associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland. "We live in a mobile society so by creating a tool that fits with people's lifestyles, we are likely to see more engagement by patients in their illness and better adherence. We know that effective self-management of the disease is essential for good health."

GI Buddy was created by a team of experts in technology and IBD. The tool enables patients to quickly and easily manage and track all aspects of their disease like symptoms they are experiencing, missed doses of treatments, foods they've eaten, and their overall well-being, in real-time. Additional features of the tool include the ability to add questions, access CCFA's Online Community forums (CCFACommunity.org) and Charmin's SitorSquat Restroom Finder app.

GI Buddy also provides comprehensive reports that help users better understand potential factors that may impact their disease and that can be shared with the patient's doctors. The reports can be accessed and emailed through the mobile app or IBDetermined.org. Users can use these reports to accurately assess their health records and make basic correlations between inputs.

"While tracking the information is important, the key to better health is to be able to evaluate and act on the information," Cross said. "GI Buddy enables the patient and their medical provider to do both quickly and easily."

IBDetermined.org Disease Tracker and Newly Diagnosed Section

Launched last year, I'll Be Determined (www.ibdetermined.org) is an interactive patient online resource designed to help patients understand how they are living with IBD and empowers them to learn about their IBD management choices. In addition to its other features, the redesigned site now enables GI Buddy users to email reports of the information they have tracked, offers a new section specifically for newly diagnosed patients, and has added additional informational content to its Info Center section.

"These enhancements serve three functions," said Kimberly Frederick, CCFA's Senior Vice President of Mission. "People without an iPhone® can still utilize the features of the GI Buddy, newly diagnosed patients can access the resources they need sooner, and all IBD patients can benefit from the new information and redesigned sections found on the redesigned I'll Be Determined website."

The I'll Be Determined site takes users through five separate decision journeys: treatment, diet, complications, living with IBD and now newly diagnosed with IBD. Each journey provides patients with a wide-range of educational content displayed in an interactive format through engaging questions and video-based tutorials. Throughout each journey, patients earn badges and, after completing the journey, can participate in a virtual dedication wall where they can select their own "IBD Declaration"—a promise to themselves for optimal disease management in the future. They can also submit additional posts as they cope with the day-to-day challenges that often come with IBD and can update others on the progress of their IBD management. The interactive newly diagnosed journey covers key topics in IBD, incorporating informational text, videos, and tips from patients and professionals surveyed by CCFA. The journey also includes a downloadable resource guide containing tips, questions, and resources to help newly diagnosed patients take charge of their IBD from the start.

Both GI Buddy and enhancements to IBDetermined.org were made possible by an educational grant from Abbott. There is an Android version of the app in development. The GI Buddy app is one of the latest initiatives by CCFA to be more accessible to their patient community online, including the launch of the mobile version of CCFA.org.

Lenora Houseworth

lhouseworth@ccfa.org; 646-943-7415

About Crohn's Disease & Ulcerative Colitis
Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are painful, medically incurable illnesses that attack the digestive system. Crohn's disease may attack anywhere along the digestive track, while ulcerative colitis inflames only the large intestine (colon). Symptoms may include abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fever, fatigue and weight loss. Many patients require hospitalization and surgery. These illnesses can cause severe complications, including colon cancer in patients with long-term disease. Some 1.4 million American adults and children suffer from Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, with as many as 150,000 under the age of 18. Most people develop the diseases between the ages of 15 and 35.

About the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America

The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) is the largest voluntary non-profit health organization dedicated to finding cures for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). CCFA's mission is to cure Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults who suffer from these diseases. The Foundation works to fulfill its mission by funding research, providing educational resources for patients and their families, medical professionals, and the public, and furnishing supportive services for those afflicted with IBD. For more information, visit www.ccfa.org, call 888-694-8872, like us on Facebook, find us on LinkedIn or follow us on Twitter.

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Source: The Crohn's &Colitis Foundation of America(CCFA)