An innovative app created to help adolescents with chronic gastrointestinal disorders identify the food triggers causing their pain.

Photo of Caroline Randolph
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  • Technology

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Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

As the gastrointestinal research continues to advance, more disorders are being discovered quite often. Approximately 60-70 million Americans suffer from G.I. disorders. Adolescents with G.I. disorders are asked by doctors to log their food and pain, to try to identify a food trigger causing their chronic pain, however there is currently no accurate and convenient way to do so. There are no apps that do what G.I. SPY can do: identify triggers.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

G.I. SPY helps adolescents log their food intake, pain instances, bowel movements, and medication intake, all very important, essential aspects to locating a food trigger. Then, G.I. SPY has a unique, state-of-the-art sort tool feature, similar to a fashion website, that helps both the doctors, parents, and the patients identify which foods are causing their chronic pain instances. Doctors will have access to their patients profiles by using an API: an application program, interface, which will enable communication between the patients and the hospitals. Hospitals will purchase an API in order to track their patients progress through a website and help their patients identify food triggers causing their chronic pain. This way, a professional can track patients without having to look through a binder of everything they ate for the past six months, making it easier for both the doctors and the patients. G.I SPY's goal is to help adolescents with a range of gastrointestinal disorders find what food is causing their pain, in the most accurate and convenient means how to: on their mobile devices. This app will teach adolescents independence in tracking their G.I. conditions.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

During the winter of my sophomore year, I was diagnosed with a chronic, rare gastrointestinal disorder called Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis. Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis is a disorder where eosinophils infiltrate the lining of the stomach and intestine, and cause severe inflammation, pain, and in some cases, the deterioration of the stomach and small intestine, requiring emergent surgery. Since then, I have spent nearly 100 days in the hospital. Junior year, I noticed the gap in the medical field of identifying triggers for G.I. patients, and I decided I wanted to be a part of the change. Since then, I have worked to create G.I. SPY, as well as partnering with local non-profits and large nonprofits to help others suffering from G.I. conditions. I have since discovered my passion of helping patients through a mix of entrepreneurship, biomedical engineering, and computer science.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

When someone diagnosed with a chronic gastrointestinal disorder uses G.I. SPY, they will finally have the help they have been waiting for. They are currently suffering from living a life in constant pain, not knowing what food is causing the chronic, intense pain, putting them in a constant state of depression and anxiety about their disorder. G.I. SPY will help these suffering adolescents by identifying the trigger causing their pain, and help give the control back to the adolescents. By identifying the trigger, these patients will be able to avoid the food causing their pain, and live a healthier life, both psychologically and physically.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

As of right now, patients are asked to log their food intake in journals, however it is the twenty-first century, and people can not lug around a journal with them everywhere. Journals are inaccurate and inconvenient to try and identify a food trigger. This is why patients turn to the app store. However, there are no apps that have what G.I. SPY has to offer, and targeted towards a younger audience. G.I. SPY is a visual app that records food, pain, bowel movements, and medications, and identifies triggers in less than three months, compared to one to two years with stressful elimination diets.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

As of right now, our app has yet to be finalized and the clinical trial has yet to begun. However, our social media and market research has impacted so many families with chronic gastrointestinal disorders. We have heard from families across the world with chronic disorders, whether it be themselves or their children. They are all following our progress and supporting the development of the app. Through our market research, we have heard how patients lives are severely impacted by these disorders, so hearing how happy our audience was about the project we are working on made me feel very humbled and appreciative. I have relied on the support of others, and this has allowed me to be the change maker I have always wanted to be.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

As of right now, I have competed in a few pitch competitions, and placed top 9 in the world at the Diamond Challenge pitch event at the University of Delaware. A peer and I are currently coding the app for functionality. Now, I am working with A.I. duPont hospital for children to have the app visual components better defined and go through a clinical trial. After the clinical trial, I have other children's hospitals lined up for clinical trials, and if they like the app, they will purchase licensing, giving our company profit. After a few clinical trials, I will be putting the app on the app store for patients to use to identify their triggers, in collaboration with their doctors.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • IT Infrastructure/CRM

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors
  • Donations less than $100
  • Donations between $100-$1k

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 66.7%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 100%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 66.7%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 50%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 66.7%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

Inspired by (1)

Woman in Technology


Join the conversation:

Photo of Anica Adzievska

As someone who has struggled with gastrointestinal problems, I am so happy to see that someone is taking action to connect doctors with patients in order to help them solve this horrible health case. Great job and congrats on moving forward!

Photo of Sarah Holcomb

Caroline — this project is amazing! I have family members who are struggling with chronic pain and health issues, and I think that the app you’re creating could have an impact on so many. I love the idea of connecting patients and doctors through the app, it would be worth checking with some legal experts to find out the safeguards that need to be in place to make that possible. Best of luck!

Photo of Alexandra Slabakis

I could definitely use this app for my dad! Your idea is definitely on trend for the future of health. Good luck!

Photo of Jayson Gonzalez

good work. i hope you can make a difference.

Photo of Hannah Lucas

This is so needed. A lot of POTSies (people with dysautonomia) struggle with gastrointestinal problems. Looking forward to seeing you launch!

Photo of Ozzy Simpson

As someone who was recently diagnosed with a chronic gastrointestinal disease, thank you for your work trying to find the foods that trigger flare-ups! While I (luckily) have not had any flare ups since being diagnosed (and therefore do not know what foods, if any, trigger my disease), I do still keep track of what I eat. To do so easily, I had to create a Shortcut in Apple’s Shortcuts app on iOS that automatically adds each meal to a daily log file of everything I ate. None of the apps I tried could do it in a simple, easy-to-digest (pun intended) manner. If you want to take a look at the simple shortcut I made, I’d be happy to share!