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September 15, 2009

Review of Mood Tracking Software: bStable

bStableTM (McGraw Systems LLC)

Our findings are drawn from conversations with the McGraw Systems CEO (Ben McGraw) and current users of bStable, and our independent review of bStable. We plan to use this software and provide a subsequent report on how it performs over time. We use pseudonyms to ensure bStable users' privacy.

What is bStable?

bStable is a comprehensive "Life Management System" software tool which enables patients diagnosed with affective disorders such as Bipolar Disorder or Depression, their loved ones, psychiatrists, and psychologists to manage the patient's disease state. Patients input and track numerous relevant areas that affect their well being. These include inputting personal data such as family members, friends, medicines, medical insurance, exercise schedule as well as providing journal entry, cognitive behavior and "crisis planner" modules which can be used when a patient is in a depressed or manic state.

bStable was officially launched last September (2008) and was presented at the International Review on Bipolar Disorder (IRBD) conference in Lisbon (May/09) and the annual NAMI conference in San Francisco (July/09).

What do users say about it?

We spoke with several users about their experience using bStable. Stephanie, a nurse who suffers from bipolar disorder, praised the software as an excellent tool that she uses daily. She keeps track of her medicines, daily moods, sleep hours etc. and "finds it satisfying to track the various issues that affect her well being." She uses it to monitor key areas that could trigger a new depressed or manic episode and shares the information with her doctor prior to her appointments. "When you provide all this data to your doctor it gives him a snapshot of your current status and helps to build a better, more informed Doctor/Patient relationship." Our takeaway from this conversation is that Stephanie, who is fully committed to managing her illness so that it doesn't wreak havoc on her personal and professional life, views bStable as essential in her daily effort to manage her bipolar condition.

We also spoke with James whose wife Laurie has recently purchased bStable.
Laurie has recently been diagnosed with a Mood Disorder NOS but both James and Laurie believe Laurie is likely to be bipolar. James said that "Laurie has looked at a lot of mood tracking systems and she feels that bStable offers a robust life management tool which enables her to capture the myriad details of daily life that need to be looked at for managing Laurie's Mood Disorder. While Laurie will input data into bStable, James will observe her input into bStable to see if it matches his own perception of Laurie's moods and progress. They are clearly using bStable as a tool that allows them to work together as well as providing Laurie's doctor with current information (Laurie will be emailing information to her Doctor prior to their meetings).

Software tool versus web-based system.

Ben McGraw indicated that he gave a lot of thought to the decision to build downloadable software versus building a web-based tracking tool. After conducting his own extensive research, he decided that a downloadable software product was the best way to ensure the privacy of users who are tracking personal sensitive information. We should note that other Mood Tracking System vendors (which we are researching and will be posted on this blog) came to the opposite conclusion and offer their systems as a web-based tracking tool.

What does bStable cost?

bStable costs $99 which includes a one-time license fee and unlimited product support. Once you have purchased bStable (via www.mcgrawsystems.com ), McGraw Systems sends you a link to download the software and provides a comprehensive user guide (PDF format). They also send a PDF plug-in so you can generate various report modules including a Crisis Plan Report.

Conclusions

bStable appears to be the only "life management" software tool currently available on the market which caters specifically to bipolar and unipolar patients. The robust software enables patients to capture numerous data points which help in managing their conditions. It does require some time to download and set up the software on your computer, but bStable seems to be very responsive in helping its customers with initial set up instructions and ongoing support. We intend to track bStable's progress and will check in with the bStable users to gauge their ongoing experience with the software.

Additional information:

bStable_Product_Datasheet.pdf

Click here to access the McGraw Systems website.

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