Fighting an Illness? Simply ReachOut - Common Sense Living Newsletter
 
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Fighting an Illness? Simply ReachOut

Entrepreneurship
Life
Jul 16, 2016

Fighting an Illness? Simply ReachOut 

I was pleasantly surprised to hear about this app. It wasn't another hyperlocal vendor-driven app, it wasn't a ticket-booking app or a find-a-restaurant-near-you app, and it definitely wasn't another dating app...

Here is an app that helps people suffering from chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, mental illness, substance abuse, and even those grieving a death, come together, share their experiences, and interact on just about anything.

The app creates a support system for patients and caregivers...serving as a peer-to-peer online network to'reach out' to at any point in the illness.

The app is rightly called ReachOut and its creator and owner is Sunil Modi, an Indian-American entrepreneur based in Dallas, USA.

Why ReachOut

Sunil first felt the need for such an app when one of his close relatives was diagnosed with acute heart disease and needed surgery... He was looking for a platform where he could interact with other heart disease patients to get his many questions answered, but he couldn't find any...

Throughout the process of diagnosis and surgery of my relative, I couldn't stop thinking of how little information is available for patients, and how they would greatly benefit from an app that could connect all of them, the world over.

Just general information on how to live with a chronic illness, what to expect in the future, how to tell their kids, what to eat, how to regulate diet etc. A little later, in September 2015, I started working on this concept and ReachOut was born.

Creating ReachOut

Sunil's idea was to make the app easy to use. His target audience was a 50-year-old woman whose husband has been diagnosed with heart disease or diabetes, who has questions on her mind and seeks support from others, but has nowhere to go... The ReachOut app on her phone would now aid her search.

With some insight from his wife, Dr Rashmi Jain, a pediatrician, Sunil narrowed down the diseases into six main challenges that would go on to form the core of the app.

We chose challenges that are life-threatening for patients. These are heart disease, cancer, diabetes, mental illness, substance abuse, and death (grieving).

We used a great team of developers to code the app. This was then followed by a team of 30 beta testers who came forward from all parts of the world.They tested the app for free because it was for a good cause. The app was finally released for both iOS and Android.

Several doctors, cardiologists, endocrinologists, and surgeons have since come forth, and are now connected to the project in various capacities.

Response to ReachOut

Since the app's launch in March 2016, it has received a tremendous response, with the number of users growing every day.

We have seen a constant influx of new users. These include patients, family members, spouses, nurses, diabetes educators, doctors, cardiologists, and recently a nephrologist.

We believe in the simple yet powerful concept that people help people... It is heartening to see users come in seeking help but staying on to help others. This is one of the main reasons for the app's success.

ReachOut's Ripple Effect

The impact of the app goes beyond social support. Because social support, as Sunil points out and some research shows, also helps patients with the recovery process.

Extensive research on the subject shows that social support improves the general well-being of patients with chronic conditions... Social support improves recovery in heart disease, enhances survival odds in diabetes and cancer, helps beat an addiction, and also overcome some forms of depression.

Social support on the app is unique... There are no designated counselors or caregivers to chat with; instead, people help people. So when someone joins the app, shares their story, and asks for help, others relate to it, offer their own experiences, and lend a shoulder to lean on.

When several users offer support to that one person, the patient doesn't feel alone anymore, but empowered and connected with this community.

Benefits of ReachOut

The app offers users a variety of features for patients to stay connected and learn more about their ailments. Some of them are:

  1. Ability to connect: Once you register, you can immediately connect and interact with users with a similar disease. It's an open and safe environment for users to reach out.
  2. Start discussions:The platform can be used to discuss what's on your mind, or to read and reply to others who are talking about what interests you.
  3. Profile and My Story: The app also offers an opportunity for users to write about their journey, their challenges, and anything else related to their lives.
  4. Feed: On this screen, users read posts from others pertaining to challenges they have chosen. It allows them to see new posts, or new comments to existing posts.
  5. Stars: Users can easily save posts and follow other users.
  6. Instant Notifications: The app sends a notification every time there is a new reply to your post, or if there is new activity in any of the posts you saved or commented on.
  7. Challenges: Users can see posts for only the challenges they choose. They can choose as many challenges as they like. For example, you can select heart disease and diabetes, and posts from both will show up on the feed screen.

ReachOut Stories

Several people have already been positively impacted by the app, and have gone on to make a difference in the lives of others too. Sunil shares some user experiences...

A car crash left a user in Dallas with brain damage and mental illness. She soon experienced depression as a result of feeling alienated from society. When she discovered the app, and people who understood her, she went through a healing process and is doing much better now.

Another 18-year-old American kid suffering from type 1 diabetes found the app as a great way to ask questions about his disease and learn from others. He now offers help to fellow diabetics.

Another user from India deals with diabetes in her family... She often pitches in with recipes for diabetic cooking.

ReachOut for India

The app is currently purely a means to help people. But Sunil is sure a business model will evolve from it eventually. As of now, he just wants more and more people to benefit from it. In his quest to help people and grow the app, Sunil urges that Indians use the app too...

India is my motherland and I would love for my fellow countrymen to benefit from this as well... The app is completely free.

I see ReachOut becoming the go-to app for people who need answers about their diseases, and support from real people who can relate to their conditions. Patients sometimes also provide referrals for doctors, hospitals, other medical services and discuss medications, recipes, etc.

ReachOut Entrepreneur

ReachOut is just one part of Sunil's life... He started his career with a background in engineering and management, joined the workforce, and later quit to start his own company. He now runs a successful IT consulting services firm. Here are some reflections from his journey...

Entrepreneurship gave me the opportunity to realise my dreams at my own pace and set my own risks in life. I have loved every minute of this journey, and it brings joy to see people benefit from an app that I was able to realise.

The biggest challenge for any entrepreneur is how to balance risk and reward. Being on your own has certain advantages, but also brings responsibility and risk...

The one advice I would give to any entrepreneur is to give your venture 100%. Nothing less because your idea and your work deserves the very best.

 
 

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5 Responses to "Fighting an Illness? Simply ReachOut"

Rajeev Kumar Gupta

04 Aug, 2016

Fabulously written. This is no doubt a very good initiative to reach out to the needy and deserving ailing people. I liked it for its greater cause.

Ashok kumar

22 Jul, 2016

Inherently sound,the project will surely serve as a platform for those suferring from various  ailments to share  Their experiences, advice, this will go far, my best wishes  to Sunil and others working on this app. This will greatly help people in poor countries like India  where medical care is highly anadequate, and where available it is very expensive.

Like (1)

Smita Vikhankar

18 Jul, 2016

This is a wonderful approach towards serving society. I would like to get connected to Sunil Modi and see if this app can be leveraged for a greater cause. Please help. Thanks, Smita Vikhankar

Like (1)

Vijay Menon

18 Jul, 2016

I liked the article. Very useful Well written. Enormous potential to help millions in India with disease- relieving knowledge and a social support system.

Like (1)

skanda

17 Jul, 2016

Useful info. Great effort from the creator. Best wishes.

Like (1)
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