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A senior specialist at Basildon University Hospital will discuss with people who have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) how technology can improve their care and quality of life.

Dr Pushpakaran Munuswamy, consultant gastroenterologist, (pictured) is the guest speaker at the next meeting of the Basildon and Thurrock IBD Support Group, which offers advice to fellow sufferers in a friendly setting.

Dr Munuswamy explains: “IBD patients can experience frequent flare-ups in their condition. If the warning signs are identified early, they can seek treatment in good time, which can help prevent complications.

“We already have a telephone helpline for patients, and see them in outpatient clinics, and we are now looking at how technology can enhance our service. We want people to be in the driving seat where their health is concerned, so they can be involved in management of their condition as far as possible. There are many studies that show this approach helps to reduce symptoms and reduces the time that people have to spend in hospital, as outpatients and inpatients.” 

“‘Virtual clinics’ where patients can talk to clinicians via video, use of smartphone apps to help people manage their diet and monitor their condition are some of the many innovations that technology could offer. We could also explore the possibility of self-monitoring apps that would link with IBD nurse specialists, so they would receive an alert if the patient is at risk of a flare-up.”

Dr Munuswamy added: “These ideas are at an early stage and we want to find out from our patients what they think would be helpful. We know that technology is not available or suitable for some people and alternatives will always be there for them. But we are keen to move forward with technological advances where possible, because there is evidence that giving patients more information and opportunities for self-management improves patient care.”

There will be a Q and A session after Dr Munuswamy’s talk and one of the hospital IBD nurse specialists will also be at the event to talk with patients.

IBD, an umbrella term for Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, affects about one in 250 people in Britain. People who live with the condition do not absorb nourishment easily due to damage to their bowels, and it can be painful and debilitating. The causes are not known, and there is no cure, but medication and sometimes surgery, as well as support from dietitians, can relieve the symptoms.

The meeting takes place on Tuesday 17 October, at 6.30pm, in the education centre at the hospital.

Refreshments (50p) will be available at the talk and a fund-raising raffle will be held. Parking in the hospital multi-storey car park is free for guests. For more information, email: basildonibdgroup@btinternet.com

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