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Dr. Sakina Bajowala

Dr. Sakina Bajowala is building a secure digital dosing record and safety optimization tool for food allergen desensitization therapy.

Health Innovator Series: Building a secure digital dosing record and safety optimization tool for food allergen desensitization therapy: Dr. Sakina Bajowala.
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title and specialty

Sakina Shikari Bajowala, MD, Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist

innovation project and tagline

The Food Allergy Fix App is a secure digital dosing record and safety optimization tool for food allergen desensitization therapy.

problem your innovation solves

Food allergen desensitization is an immunomodulatory treatment designed to gradually increase a patient’s tolerance to a food to which he or she is hypersensitive. The goal is to reduce the risk of experiencing allergic reactions from accidental ingestion, expand the diet, and improve quality of life by reducing restrictions and easing anxiety. The treatment involves daily dosing with the very food to which the patient is allergic, with doses that increase regularly. The risk of potentially experiencing an allergic reaction to the dose itself is real, and is mitigated by carefully following numerous safety rules and proactively modifying the dose if the patient exhibits signs of intolerance. This requires meticulous record-keeping and open communication on the part of both patient and allergist. However, if there are lapses in data collection or communication, dosing errors may result in reactions. The Food Allergy Fix App is designed to be a secure, digital solution to this problem. It consists of 2 interfaces: a mobile app for the patient (push notifications with dosing reminders, checklist to ensure safety rules are followed, customized dose modification based on clinical scenario, digital dose and reaction recording with time-stamp, integrated food allergy action plan) and a web-based portal for the allergist (upload customized treatment protocols, approve patients and assign protocols and starting doses, set up practice-specific dosing rules and symptom-based treatment plans, view patient dosing and reaction calendars, and download reports to facilitate registry participation and chronic/principal care management). By standardizing data collection and integrating dosing and treatment rules into the application, we hope to improve safety for the patient, efficiency for the physician, and clarity for all.

intended target audience/user of your innovation

1. Patients who are pursuing food allergen desensitization therapy 2. Allergists supervising food allergen desensitization therapy

interesting experience while developing your innovation

I learned to wireframe in Balsamiq to clearly map out user interfaces and workflows. I think this made the development process so much easier, because the team had a concrete representation of my vision for the application.

mistakes/hurdles along the way

The biggest hurdle I have needed to overcome is to get comfortable with self-promotion. As physicians, we’re taught to be quiet about our accomplishments and let the health of our patients be our best advertisement. It is rare that we ever need to sell ourselves to the patient – they typically seek us out proactively. This laissez-faire approach doesn’t work in the digital space, where you have to tout the benefits of your creation not only with passion, but also with tenacity in the face of rejection.

typical day in your life

6:00am – wake up 6:30am – Drink tea and listen to the news on Alexa while preparing breakfast for the remote learners in the household 7:00am – Various meetings with development team and other contractors (Zoom, Amazon Chime, Microsoft Teams, RingCentral – you name it) 8:00am-11:30am, 1:00pm-5:00pm (M, T, Th, F) – Clinic at Kaneland Allergy and Asthma Center. Mix of telemedicine and in person appointments, plus direct supervision of immunotherapy, oral challenges and food desensitization. (Since the onset of the pandemic, I try to go home mid-day to either drop off or prepare lunch for my family.) 5:00pm-6:30pm – Conference calls for professional societies, catching up with kids and husband 6:30pm-7:30pm – Talk to friends while making dinner 7:30pm-8:00pm – dinner with family 8:00pm-8:30pm – watch tv with family 8:30pm-9:30pm – work out, shower 9:30pm-11:30pm – Catch up on emails, work on app and website – development, testing, marketing (often with a movie on in the background, usually something we’ve seen before – the familiarity of the dialogue is calming) 11:30pm – Sleep On Wednesdays and weekends, I devote more time to the app, and less to the kitchen.

someone who inspires you

I was inspired to create this application by the parents of my young patients, who work incredibly hard to stay organized when managing a complex immunomodulatory therapy. They keep notebooks, spreadsheets, and paper dose logs to keep track of everything this treatment entails. I wanted to create a solution to lift some of this burden, while simultaneously streamlining information-sharing with the medical team.

parting words of wisdom

The best ideas are simple solutions to common problems. The concept doesn’t need to be earth-shattering, but it does need to make life better for others.
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Innovator Bio

Dr. Sakina Shikari Bajowala is an internationally recognized physician, best-selling author, speaker, and health advocate. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago, and earned her medical degree from Rush Medical College. Following a residency in General Pediatrics at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital, Dr. Bajowala returned to Rush University Medical Center for her fellowship in Adult & Pediatric Allergy & Immunology. The Medical Director of Kaneland Allergy and Asthma Center, Dr. Bajowala is an expert in the highly specialized field of food allergen desensitization. She has successfully treated hundreds of patients with life-threatening food allergies, and has developed her own integrative protocols to optimize the safety and efficacy of this immunomodulatory procedure. Dr. Bajowala is also the author of the #1 best-selling book, “The Food Allergy Fix: An Integrative and Evidence-Based Approach to Food Allergen Desensitization”, and is a dynamic educator and speaker on the topic of integrative food allergy treatments. Dr. Bajowala dedicates her volunteer time to a variety of advocacy efforts, including food allergy, physician wellness, consumer safety, and environmental health.
Health Innovator Series: Building a secure digital dosing record and safety optimization tool for food allergen desensitization therapy: Dr. Sakina Bajowala.

About this series.

The Health Innovators series features physicians who think outside the box, push past healthcare “comfort zones,” and take a chance on their ideas.

The world needs more healthcare innovators.

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