Written by Kathleen O’Brien
While its original purpose didn’t pan out, HelpAround is now providing assistance and support to those with diabetes.
It seems that almost every second, someone is saying “yeah, there’s an app for that.” And while most of these apps no longer generate surprise, once in awhile, there’s one that does.
One such app is called HelpAround. Originally meant to be a resource forum for everyone to acquire the things they needed, HelpAround users would post questions to their community forum and get advice about the best handyman or find a person with ibuprofen.
However, that idea didn’t take off, so the group took a different approach and focused solely on the diabetic community. Since then, it’s been connecting and uniting diabetics across the country — offering them the much-needed support that they couldn’t get from generic online medical forums. And with 29.1 million Americans suffering from the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association, the app has the potential to help countless people.
There are two layers to it: a local, social one and the professional layer. Using the local layer, participants can find others in their proximity and ask each other for advice or supplies. For instance, if a person forgets insulin strips while out, he or she can contact a neighbor from the group and ask to borrow some. It’s also a way to help those with diabetes cope and live with the disease. Participants can ask each other candid questions and receive open, truthful answers which they may not receive from a doctor.
The professional portion of the app connects users with a 24/7 medical call center. Nurses are available to receive phone calls, and users receive three free calls per month.
Many users are even using this as an alternative to an insurance policy, which is something that co-founder and CEO Yishai Knobel never fathomed. “A lot of people on our system don’t have insurance, and they come here as alternative. We’re finding a really interesting market inefficiency,” Knobel told Fast Company.
Rachel Gillet is a writer for Fast Company, as well as a type 1 diabetic. According to her, this app is a great resource for diabetics, but it needs to be used with discretion so that people don’t rely solely on the generosity of others.
“I can’t begin to tell you the amount of times a pharmacy has been closed or out of supplies or my prescription has run out and it’s the weekend, so [there's] no doc[tor] around to call in a refill. Or how many times I’ve been on a road trip and realized I forgot something and I’m not due a refill on yet, so I can’t even stop into a Walgreens and pick something up (technically, I could, but insurance wouldn’t cover it and I would be out about $600 for one box of insulin),” she says.
Helping the diabetes community is just the beginning for the app. HelpAround hopes to not only expand its diabetic community even further, but to eventually introduce the app to those with other chronic conditions as well.
This post originally appeared on NationSwell.
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