PHOENIX, Ariz. -

Preparing for a colonoscopy? Now there's an app for that.

Doctors say most patients report the preparation for a colonoscopy is worse than the procedure itself. 

The preparation process begins days in advance and includes dietary restrictions and taking a bowel prep medication at specific intervals.

Researchers in Phoenix have developed a smartphone application called the "Arizona Digestive Health app"  that walks patients through each step.

"Getting ready for a colonoscopy is difficult," said Dr. Nilay Kavathia, a gastroenterology fellow and one of the app's developers. "For patients, having an interactive, simplified and personalized app on their phone is like having a doctor at their side throughout the process."

Patients enter the date and time of their upcoming procedure and the bowel preparation medication chosen by their physician.

The app sends timed alerts to remind patients of the next step required.

In a study comparing the quality of bowel preparation by patients who used the app and those who did not, Kavathia found 84 percent of patients who used the app received a good prep score, compared to only 56 percent of those who didn't use the app.

"We know that better prep means a better colonoscopy," Kavathia said, "and now we know that this app improves prep."

To download the free app, search "Arizona Digestive Health" in your app store.