Israel-based HelpAround, which makes an app that connects people with diabetes in the same immediate area, has raised $550,000 from Windham Venture Partners and angel investors Walter Winshall, Robert Oringer and former Harmonix COO Michael Dornbrook. Windham and the angel investors co-led the round.
MobiHealthNews wrote about HelpAround earlier this year at HIMSS, where the company positioned itself as one of the first to bring the “sharing economy” to healthcare -- starting with diabetes but eventually moving into other areas like food allergies. The company was building up users at the time, but their commercial launch was just announced this month.
“Here at HIMSS it’s all about hospital-to-patient, doctor-to-patient, nurse-to-patient. Why is no one talking about patient-to-patient?” HelpAround Co-founder and CEO Yishai Knobel said at the time. “Especially when research has shown that peer support drives medical outcomes.”
The app allows patients with diabetes and parents of children with diabetes to reach out to a nearby support network if they forget test strips at home, need help operating a Glucagon injection, or just want to talk to someone about their diabetes. Outside of crisis situations, anonymous networks of people can help each other find local healthcare services, insurance plans, doctors, pharmacies and retailers.
“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,” Knobel said in a statement. “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.’”
Existing diabetes groups and communities can build social groups within the free iOS and Android apps, and social groups can gather within the app around a shared experience. Groups so far include Type 2 Diabetes, Moms of Children with Diabetes and Teens with Diabetes, as well as branded groups for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund of Israel and EsTuDiabetes.
Other features HelpAround has added for the commercial release include two additional features added via partnerships. HelpAround is working with Spanish language online diabetes community EsTuDiabetes to develop a web widget. EsTuDiabetes users will be able to find other people with diabetes even without a mobile device, using IP addresses rather than GPS to establish location. They're also working with TeamHealth to create a "Nurse on Call" feature for all users, allowing them access to a registered nurse 24/7. Three times a month users can ask a nurse a diabetes-related question for no charge.
Finally, HelpAround has brought Misfit Wearables founder Sonny Vu, who Knobel worked under at Agamatrix, which launched the first iPhone connected glucose meter, iBGStar, with Sanofi.
"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 in a statement. “HelpAround’s potential to crowdsource diabetes experience – and deliver it locally and immediately – for quality of life improvement really excites me.”