Kwame and Florence Iwegbue are West African immigrants living in Charleston, SC with their two daughters and their autistic son who also has asthma and severe allergies. By the time he started having seizures, they were dealing with behavioral and rehabilitative therapists, physician specialists, and a multitude of tests, medications, and dietary supplements. They were under tremendous pressure to manage his appointments and scheduled tests as well as understand instructions from healthcare workers and maintain hours of weekly therapies. As a result, Florence had to cut back on work as a real estate agent, which impacted their finances. They needed something to help manage this challenging scenario and couldn't find it. So they created their own solution.
Developing and refining iBiomed
iBiomed (free, app2.me/3404) was developed by Kwame Iwegbue M.D and his wife Florence to help them manage the health treatment regimen for their 4-year-old son, Dilibe, who was diagnosed with autism in October 2009. Prior to its completion, Florence was lugging around 13 files of information and journals to doctor's appointments, special needs school meetings, and therapist conferences.
In an effort to help his wife deal with overwhelming responsibilities, Dr. Iwegbue developed iBiomed while working 60-hour weeks as a hospitalist at Roper Hospital—a job he refers to as his first love. Kwame determined that his son needed a mobile health record that could hold and organize all the information in the files Florence was forced to carry. In addition, he wanted the app to be able to help her answer questions/queries that his son's healthcare providers would have, and keep them appraised of his daily progress and problems.
Because autism is such a dynamic and poorly understood health condition, iBiomed had to be a one-stop-shop for managing their son's medications, supplements, frequent tests, nutrition and specific dietary needs, and rehabilitative therapies. It had to do so by effortlessly using reminders, graphs, journals, and information sharing tools. Kwame and Florence also realized that they needed a supply tracker to help them remember to refill their son's prescriptions, supplements, and medical supplies. The app needed to allow hospital emergency staff instant access to vital health information about him in the event of a seizure or other emergency if he were at school.
Beyond special needs children
It had become apparent to Kwame and Florence that lifestyle changes had critically affected them and other members of their extended family. The modern world is far different from traditional West African villages, and deviations from a diet rich in nutrients, daily physical activity, and social contact were wreaking havoc with family members here and back home in their villages. In response to this, they not only encouraged family members who suffered from chronic diseases to begin using the app, they created a health forum that can be accessed from within the app (facebook.com/ibiomed). Their intention was to encourage people to share information, worries, and successes. The smaller the networks were, the more likely people would feel safe enough to contribute. They included a "smart topic filter" as an homage to the small village mentality back in Nigeria. Smaller villages thrive very well socially and are better situated to rally support for anyone in need. The idea is that the smart topic filter will allow the user to see and interact with topics and conversations that are directly related to their health condition.
Easing the burden of caregivers
Today the dynamic of the family unit has changed because of financial constraints and caregiver responsibilities. More and more people are living in extended families, and family members with caregiver responsibilities need their burden eased.
IBiomed went from being a personal labor of love to a community calling as other caregivers found out about the app. It quickly became obvious that iBiomed was not just for special needs children, but for just about anyone with a multi-symptom health condition.