TEL AVIV, Israel – HelpAround on Wednesday launched a mobile platform for people with diabetes — and their friends, family and caregivers — that reveals fellow ‘diabetes helpers’ from the crowd, helping people resolve sudden health crises, such as getting caught without essential over-the-counter blood glucose test strips.
Its patent-pending Mobile Safety Net technology is the first sharing economy service for consumer health, the company announced.
While HelpAround shouldn’t replace emergency room or doctor’s office visits, the Mobile Safety Net shows a nearby mix of other users, relevant people from users’ social graphs and public social media streams — then facilitates connections according to shared patient interests and needs.
Personalized to users’ health needs and location, HelpAround also is a resource outside of crisis situations. Users find each other the best local healthcare services, insurance plans, doctors, pharmacies and retail opportunities. HelpAround’s peer-to-peer support is a vital upgrade to the static content from outdated online forums — nearly impossible to read on mobile devices — and in-person support groups, which lack the anonymity of a virtual medium.
"HelpAround welcomes existing local and regional patient communities looking to expand their mobile presence, including diabetes camps and university groups, as well as nonprofit organizations and online communities like EsTuDiabetes, to create groups inside its platform.”HelpAround also announced Wednesday it raised $550,000 in funding, co-led by Windham Venture Partners and angel investors Walter Winshall, Robert Oringer and former Harmonix COO Michael Dornbrook.
“Diabetes management is exhausting for both patients and caregivers, yet there hasn’t been a healthcare industry after-care solution that helps patients by connecting them to each other,” said HelpAround CEO and co-founder Yishai Knobel. “HelpAround’s premise is: The best resource for a patient is another patient. We harness the superior trust, empathy and camaraderie within the diabetes patient community, allowing members to discover peers who truly ‘get it.’”
Two launch features underscore HelpAround’s status as a multi-format platform offering a new layer of support for the diabetes patient community, despite its overall mobile-first foundation:
- EsTuDiabetes.org web widget — HelpAround developed a web-based Safety Net widget for one of the largest Spanish-speaking diabetes patient community’s websites. Using IP addresses to track location instead of GPS, it’s a way for people with diabetes who are without smartphones and tablets to discover each other in the real world; and
- Nurse on Call — HelpAround is partnering with TeamHealth to provide the first free, 24/7, live phone support with registered nurses from a mobile app. Users in most major U.S. cities tap the “Nurse on Call” button to ask an R.N. their diabetes-related question for free, up to three times a month.
Sonny Vu, founder of the wearable computer manufacturer Misfit Wearables, recently joined HelpAround’s advisory board. “An informed patient community provides its members insights and actionable steps they can take — similar to the goal of wearable computers via data collection,” Vu said. “HelpAround’s potential to crowdsource diabetes experience — and deliver it locally and immediately — for quality of life improvement really excites me.”
HelpAround also is a patient engagement platform designed to let healthcare providers, brands and retailers join patients’ conversations in identity-based groups — like Type 2 Diabetes, Moms of Children with Diabetes and Teens with Diabetes — interacting with them at moments when they’re seeking advice. With Medicare reimbursement now tied directly to patient satisfaction, healthcare providers benefit from a new way to engage local patients, the company noted. Those providers also can launch their own branded groups within HelpAround, further boosting patient recruitment and brand visibility. Examples of branded HelpAround groups include EsTuDiabetes for the Spanish-speaking diabetes community and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund of Israel for Israelis with Type 1 diabetes.
HelpAround welcomes existing local and regional patient communities looking to expand their mobile presence, including diabetes camps and university groups, as well as nonprofit organizations and online communities like EsTuDiabetes, to create groups inside its platform.
The HelpAround user interface is available in English, Spanish, French and Hebrew, though users may type in any language. HelpAround plans to support additional patient communities as it expands; several food allergy groups are already in Beta within its mobile platform. The app is available now as a free download in Google Play and the iTunes App Store.