Chris Bennett of Ankylosing.org Wins Twilio's "Anything Goes" Contest for AS Journal

janet-carmody Chris Bennett’s girlfriend Janet has a condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis, a rare and painful disease that can lead to permanent fusing of the spine. Doctors recommended keeping a symptom log to track how she was feeling while being treated. Chris, being the good boyfriend that he is, wanted to make this process as easy as possible for Janet. Nobody carries around a pen and paper but everyone carries a cell phone. Chris thought, why not track symptoms using SMS and phone calls? Chris and his friend Ilya Orlik built an application to facilitate symptom tracking in just three days using the Twilio API, surprising Janet and many others in the AS community with the results.

The application is called Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) Journal and it enables any patient to log their symptoms via SMS or a phone call. Additionally, hash tags can be used to record pain levels from 1-10 (e.g. #5) or used to flag a symptom as “ask my doctor” with #ask. With this simple syntax, a lot of information can be captured in a single text message. For example, you could quickly record “Stiffness in lower back #7 #ask” and before your next appointment print out a nicely formatted list of every symptom you logged.

Chris put together a screencast demonstrating how AS Journal works:

For his incredibly useful application of the Twilio API, Chris has won our Anything Goes contest. His prize for winning is a netbook and $100 in Twilio credit. Congratulations Chris!

Try it out yourself

To register, text your symptom (anything) to (727) 697-7990. You will receive a message back with a temporary password to log into http://journal.ankylosing.org/. Once registered, you may text additional symptoms into the same number, call and record a symptom from the phone you registered with, or enter how you’re feeling at the website.

Chris talks about building AS Journal with Twilio

Tell us how you got started building AS Journal with Twilio

as-journal-team CB: I love applying technology to everyday problems, so when my girlfriend’s doctor asked her to keep a log of her symptoms, I immediately thought, “she should be able to do that from her phone.” My developer and I were already familiar with the Twilio API, so we thought, why not whip up a way for Janet to be able to text in her symptoms from anywhere? I punched out the UI in a day, and Ilya coded it in about 3 days. We advertised it to our nearly 1,000 members of http://answers.ankylosing.org/ (a Q&A community I set up for the disease) and got lots of early adopters and great feedback.

How are things going? What are your future plans for the application?

CB: Things are going great and we may even expand the concept to other (or all) diseases if the right partner approaches us.

What technologies are you using for AS Journal?

CB: It’s really just a straightforward PHP/MySQL implementation with some AJAX And jQuery thrown in.

How did you get started developing with Twilio?

AS-Journal-Main CB: We started where most people do with Twilio, building a “Hello World” script from the sample PHP code… and then we took off from there. It’s really quite simple to get going, but don’t tell the competition :)

How was the experience of integrating Twilio with your chosen tools and technologies?

CB: In one word: seamless. OK, so there are always some issues to work through. Ours were with tweaking our code to accept and reply to international numbers. Twilio supports them so there’s no issue there. We just didn’t expect to get users from all over the world so quickly. It was just a matter of adapting the code and communicating with our first international users as we went.


Inspired by Chris’ entry, we decided to do an entire contest around Health and Fitness. If you have an idea or an existing application that helps people be healthier and uses Twilio, enter your submission by this Sunday, August 8th at 11:59pm PST for a chance to win a netbook of your own and $100 in Twilio credit.