A personalized video/picture campaign that initiates a companion synced treatment program through a mobile app; tying recovery & prevention
"Hear the words of your loved ones as they tell you how much they care for you and want you to lose the excess weight that has immobilized your body. Look into their eyes as they extend their hands to support you through this disease that has weakened your heart. Take heed to the facts of Chronic Diseases that they share and join the Health Helpmate program to start a journey towards disease management and recovery."
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The Health Helpmate is an innovative online-to-offline program that focuses on strengthening resilience while also enhancing knowledge and awareness in both the patient and their kindred.
We build the support system you need to overcome the disease that afflicts you.
The program itself operates in 2 parts. Firstly people take a picture or record a video message for their loved one who is at risk or suffering from a chronic disease (or vice versa) and upload it on our app which then customizes the video to include facts about the disease, its impact on you and in the world and what can be done to prevent and treat it. Secondly it begins a health partnership through which the patient chooses an companion (whether it’s their family member, friend or any other relation they feel comfortable with) and has them both participate in a series of in-sync activities to better treat the disease under the physical/emotional support of having a “Health Helpmate”, whilst also advancing prevention in the companions.
The extensive features of the program include sections on exercise, food, medicine, tips and other information on a wide range of chronic diseases like obesity, heart and lung conditions, liver and kidney issues and even hypertension and depression.
Online-to-Offline highlights the dual operational nature of the program which will be available in the form of an app as well as an on grounds program in order to reach not just those who are economically sound but also those who don’t have internet connectivity or the luxury of owning a Smartphone.
What are the key outcomes and impact of your solution?
Through our creative video campaign we connect individuals, foster support and eliminate the isolation, the stigma and the difficulties that arise from fighting an illness on your own. This has both physical as well as psychological benefits for the patient and their loved ones. We aim to record 10,000 video or photo messages by or for chronic disease patients in the next 6 months through an early beta campaign. That puts our mid-year outreach to 20,000 and that too before we even launch our app. The program itself will be accessible on the internet for free and will have the potential to reach millions.
Under this solution we will be effectively not just shifting cultural behaviors towards chronic diseases prevention but also diversifying the treatment process through our interactive and engaging program. This will have huge impact in communities of developed and the developing world as we are no longer reaching just the patient but also their loved ones, doubling our reach and our impact.
Our App will act as an intermediary between the patient and the caretaker and by introducing the concept of long distance health helpmates (caretakers) we in effect shift the paradigm and create an alternate method of approach for the family members. This provides a unique opportunity for patients whose loved ones live in a different city or country and ultimately lessens the burden of caretaking by dilution.
Our open sourced clinic catalogue using GPS location will help us direct patients using our App to the nearest chronic disease focused clinics and health specialists near them, besides the standard hospitals marked. This enables and encourages early detection and treatment. Crowd-sourced assistance of health professionals, medical students and other stakeholders will facilitate us in marking Chronic Disease treatment spots in numerous cities across the globe. One network of doctors such as the Young Doctors Association (Pakistan) will get us 500 sites marked in the first few months. This has huge impact as we are able to not just help the patients but also generate a pool of data for different cities in the developing world. Marking these health clinics and specialists creates another consequential metric that our app tracks.
Launching a field program based on the same principles helps us reach the target demographic noted by Solve CoLab. Through our Helpmate Support Groups will aim to generate 30 networks in 5 different countries this year.
Ultimately our key metric is improving health and reducing early mortality and this we intend to counter through our program both online and offline. In our solutions prime it will have made a difference in the daily lives of people across the planet and would have prevented the senseless deaths that arise because of lack of early precautionary measures.
What actions do you propose to realize your stated goals?
Realization of the Health Helpmate is not far from the near future.
We have created the layout of our model program and are successfully at concept of proof. Albeit there are still many crucial tasks that need to be implemented in order to effectively scale our solution for the global market.
Now the next actions we need to take are:
1.Working with stakeholders to review and revise our model program
2.Fundraising to pay for the app development, campaign costs and incidentals
3.Collaborating with the MIT CoLab to create the free iOS/Android app
4.Reaching out to the different networks we will use for implementation of the grounds (offline) program
We'll be discussing how we will go about achieving these in the paragraphs below.
We are already aware that chronic disease such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes, are by far the leading cause of mortality in the world. They count for 60% of all deaths, yet awareness campaigns and early prevention are scantly funded and there is a lack of functionally flexible disease management programs.
In terms of chronic diseases (like heart disease, diabetes and obesity), outside hospital doors patients and their families are left to deal with the illness themselves with little to no understanding about how their treatment and their life is truly in their own hands. Growing economic disparity has added on to the problem as 80% of deaths come from low and middle income countries. This in turn has led to the popular belief that chronic diseases can be controlled but not cured.
However we are here to challenge that narrative.
Now basic research will tell anyone how major risk factors are unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and tobacco use. However the lesser known facts are that if the major risk factors for chronic disease were eliminated, at least 80% of heart disease, stroke and type-2 diabetes would be prevented; and 40% of cancer would be prevented. Now what’s even lesser known than that is how much influence family and peers can have to bring lifestyle changes and prolong the life expectancy of the patients.
As the University of Michigan Center for Managing Chronic Diseases reports:
Chronic diseases require long term [at home] management besides the healthcare provided by professionals. Unfortunately lack of will and support leads majority of those suffering from chronic illness to stop taking the necessary steps required for their wellbeing. To fill the gap between the treatments provided at hospitals and lack of management existing outside we’re launching this innovative program that aids not only the patients but also empowers their companions enough to be able to help boost their loved ones recovery. Our approach focuses on prevention and management with and through those who aren’t ill in order to maximize our outreach and better help those who are ill.
[Personalized health commercials] Using Videos & Pictures to market our solution
To make our message sustain we decided to introduce a video and picture campaign that harnesses the power of emotions, the lure of kindred and the awe of the harsh truths and facts about chronic diseases. Creating and sending personal testimonials to their loved ones will help individuals ensure affirmative action and enthusiastic participation in the program. Moreover it will help us (the solvers) reach a wider demographic and truly connect with those suffering from the illness and those suffering from seeing their loved ones deteriorating health.
Alternately a person suffering from a condition like depression can use this feature to make a video to seek help and support from a friend and/or a relative; something that otherwise would be difficult for them to do in person because of social anxiety, their introvert nature or some other debilitating cause. Depression itself develops either into loss of appetite or greater food consumption and can evolve into tobacco and drug dependency which as mentioned above are the main killers of people under 70.
Having the personal video feature will directly put us through to the patient by the caretaker or vice versa. Furthermore the appealing aspect of receiving or sending a customized personalized message will be interactive and engaging thus enhancing our chances of online distribution through its “share-ability”.
Watch this video of a college students message to her mother who suffers from a heart condition.
[Health Helpmates Fighting Chronic Diseases Online & Offline] The App
In these modern times technology has flourished exponentially and the cheap availability of Smart phones and the easy access to the internet has overcome the barrier of communication. However as much as our emotions and feelings are connected to our loved ones (through sites like Facebook, twitter, etc) our bodies are still not in-sync and we really don’t know much about our loved ones health.
This is where the Health Helpmate fills the market void. It integrated mobile devices into disease management by connecting 2 or more individuals together on the app so they can not only be updated about one another’s health but also take part in proactive activities together. Updates on doctor appointments, physical therapy and dietary cautions will be sent to the helpmates so that one can keep a check on the other.
Through the Health Helpmate App we aim to provide not just physical but also emotion support to those who have chronic illness. Moreover the app will lessen the burden of the primary caretaker as its extensive features will include all the necessary information a patient could require like medication reminders and locations and numbers of nearest health clinics and specialists. It also opens the space for a secondary care taker to take in some of the responsibility regardless of their distance from the patient.
Distribution of the app will be focused on social media platforms with help from the visuals created by our initial users. Using our #HealthHelpmate hashtag we would be campaigning for chronic disease awareness with the MIT team and the network of organizations present at the UN solvers pitch.
Moreover we also plan to target late young people at high schools and colleges by carrying out workshops and presentations about the deadly risks and why they should utilize our app to keep a check on the well being of their parents and grandparents.
Watch this video from Pakistan of Mary and her father Shahzad (who has diabetes) keeping in touch from different cities through the Health Helpmates exercise feature.
[Health Helpmate Groups in rural settings] The On-Ground Program
I am from a developing country so I know the reality of how the majority of economically disadvantaged people in low and middle income countries do not have basic necessities, let alone internet connectivity or smartphones. To reach this demographic we have altered our program to fit the setting of rural communities and the needs and priorities of the locale there.
The Health Helpmate Groups are what we plan to initiate in such places. These will act in a way like AA group meeting except their function will be based around chronic health management and treatment. The patients and their caretakers will follow the same course offered on the app but instead of being updated on Smartphones, they will have monthly (or weekly) meetings and workshops over the course of a year.
The meetings function for the same purpose of providing physical and emotional support and encouragement to overcome the illness through changing detrimental habits and choices. They will be under the umbrella of family health helpmates and then neighborhood health helpmates. Exercise activities will be carried out and information on available alternate food ingredients substitution for proper nutrient fulfillment such as Monounsaturated fat (MUFAS) instead of saturated fat. The information now being more specifically garnered for each place we target. Different NGOs and their members will be supplied with the necessary information approved under the guidance of the MiT SolveColab to carry out the workshops along with volunteers.
Recorded voice messages sent to the phones will be a useful tool to sustain our health program as it counters the illiteracy hurdle that comes with sending an SMS. While visual aid booklets in local languages and through images will help in integrating knowledge with treatment.
However its execution will be dependent on available funds. Our solution's strategy is scaled for the extremely vulnerable patients and their caretakers and will focus on community health initiated from grass root activism in order to successfully adapt and execute our idea. New approaches like these will help us manage the diseases effectively.
See this sub-set of our Health Helpmate Support Group for rural areas:
Feasibility and Potential Barriers
We have already set in motion our solution in order to reach our goal of curing the world of chronic diseases and our strategies, key tools and approaches are mentioned above. However no solution is complete without acknowledging the obstacles and challenges we may face in order to test the solutions feasibility.
In terms of the video/picture feature as appealing and charming it is it still may fail to garner enough support to reach different regions. To counter this challenge we might have to re-evaluate our marketing strategy and revamp it to meet different locations based on our target demographic.
The on grounds program may face cultural or political challenges as we aim to reach developing countries, some of which face many uncertainties. To deal with this we would be partnering with already established NGOs in the regions we aim to launch our solution. This will give us more ground support and we wouldn’t have to face the challenges of setting up in foreign regions on our own. Moreover the program may not appear appealing enough to the target patients and their caretakers and so to overcome this we might have to incentivize participating. One such incentive could be healthier food alternatives that we could offer to patients in return for their partaking in the program, regular participation and having them encourage others participation.
Social barriers will arise in different regions including our solutions home base of Pakistan. These could be based on gender disparity, social class structure or some other unforeseen issue. To address this we will need to make our own team more aware and sensitive to social norms. Trainings on how to approach these issues can be done with help from veteran social actors. Moreover in order to truly eliminate chronic diseases we need to be inclusive as these disease tend to inflict marginalized groups more than others. This means having women as well as men from different backgrounds in our own team.
Technicality glitches might arise due to lack of funding available or delay in program/app development. This is a very real risk and we would need to see it through by harboring as much external support as we can in order to use that collective for the execution of our desired goals. In this way the conference being held at the United Nations will serve as an exceptional opportunity for us.
In addition to this many other unforeseen challenges may arise. However that should not discourage us. The realities of social work and taking a global challenge like this cannot come without impediments. We just need to be prepared to deal with these when the time comes and I believe we at Health Helpmate can successfully do that.
I hope you believe in us like we do in our cause.
Who will take these actions?
The team members at Health Helpmate based in Washington D.C and Pakistan will be the main creators and executors of the project. However we will further build our solution and strengthen it with help from three separate groups of actors. Our key players and their roles being:
1st are The Creators / Internal Team
This includes the fund raisers, the research team, the campaign team, app developers, and the design team which works with us to scale this solution for a universal reach.
Research and information will be sourced from WHO, fundraising will be gained through crowd souring sites like GoFundMe and/or Kickstarter and the app development and campaign will be done under the MIT CoLabs with help from their brilliant students.
2nd are The Distributors / External Support
Health professionals, medical students and other stakeholders who we will work with in order to make this program feasible, help with information and improve its overall exposure and outreach.
This will be done by reaching out to concerned organizations like WHO, the UN, doctors without borders and the ministry of health in Pakistan through who we can integrate the program in rural village. I’d love to extend an invitation to the judges to use the numerous networks they spearhead in helping spread the program in other regions of the world.
3rd are The End Users / Target participants
These are our target market of the patients and their loved ones who are suffering from the diseases we hope to eliminate.
The actions by this will be taken by our campaign drivers and the loved ones who are exposed to our message or the patients who are suffering from the disease and need support.
Our target audience is divided into two markets within the low and middle income countries that our solution hopes to serve.
- People who are financially secure and have access to internet connectivity and gadgets like smartphones
- People who don’t have these resources and need to be catered through conventional ways
Developing countries like Pakistan, Singapore, India, Brazil and China are our primary target for the Helpmate app. Chronic health diseases dominate the health burdens in these regions and also dominate the costs which results in exponential economic weight. $84 billion were projected to be need in developing countries because of lack of early action and high costs of late action. We plan to reduce those annual expected costs through our innovative prevention and management model.
Besides this China alone has an estimated $558 billion cost and so we feel necessary to target these populations first. At the same time technological infiltration in these countries is growing every day and so our solution will have great potential in these evolving internet booted markets.
Least developed nations like Afghanistan and Nigeria are our secondary target market. By involving people in our Helpmate Support Groups we plan to employ hubs of chronic disease management support groups within this nations as implementation will be more cost effective and the previous work done in these countries shows potential for massive improvement in heath burdens by awareness methods due to many reasons (like untapped health care, changing roles of doctors and diseases leading to self-management trials) as shared by other stakeholders.
The countries we note have the highest projected death rates by cardiovascular diseases and respiratory illnesses. Yet they are also the nations which show great prospective. Our solution of personalized messages and support groups is based on population wide approached and individual intervention. These factors are best suited for cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, cancer and diabetes as mortality from all these chronic illnesses can be considerably reduced through the aforementioned plan.
Moreover these countries are home to our teams personal network of friends and colleagues (social workers, activists, etc) and so for us to implement our solution there would be easier than in regions in which we don’t have ground support. Political barriers and cultural norms are known as different members have experience of carrying out projects in these regions.
A global challenge like curing chronic diseases demands a global approach and that's exactly what we're aiming for.
Take a look at this video sent from Singapore made by two friends for their friend with osteoporosis.
What do you expect are the costs associated with piloting and implementing the solution, and what is your business model?
Our solution is primarily targeted towards people from low and middle-income countries. That’s what this open challenge by Solve Colab was all about so we don’t feel that a for-profit business model would help in curing the world from Chronic disease. As we’ve already discussed majority of the individuals exposed come from impoverished nations and are financially secure enough to pay high costs – even if it is to save their lives.
Therefore we are basing our solution as a non-profit. However money is important to fund the solution itself and we are not ignorant of that fact.
Our solutions cost are expected to be approximately $100,000 in the first two years.
The expected costs include:
- $35,000 for app development for iOS and Android
- $15,000 for salaries or incidentals during the piloting phase
- $6,000 for the health helpmate visual booklet and workshop course development and production
- $5,000 for promotional and marketing expenses
- and approximately $39,000 that will be allotted for the on-grounds program
We aim to fundraise through Kickstarter and/or Gofundme to raise the initial 35K for the app development. If chosen, collaborating with the MIT Lab will help us push down costs and also in fact help in raising the money.
Once our app is launched we will use the ads generated on it (mostly health and medical related) to fund our on-ground project. Thus even though our app will be free to use, it will still generate money for us - making our solution go borderline on a hybrid.
But one time funding is not enough; even after a successful kickstarter campaign we could end up with less money then we need to make this solution feasible. That is a hurdle I acknowledge with my plan.
In such a case I would want to seek other opportunities for funding based on IT sponsors and tech groups who launch seeding funding grants. These are done locally like in Pakistan by P@SHA and also internationally by UNICEF, google and other parties.
Once our on-grounds program and app are both developed we plan to make it open for everyone’s usage through sites like Solve Colab so that our solution can become someone else’s solution.
2016 | Conceptualization and polishing solution
2017 | Feb | Establishing networks, collaborating with other individuals at Solve CoLab
Mar | following the open solutions judges advice and making the necessary amendments in the proposal
Apr | Working with MIT Colab to polish the solution, fundraising and expanding human resources available for internal workload
May-Oct | Developing the App, creating the on grounds program prototype
Nov-Dec | Field testing our program and improving its function by seeing what works and what doesn’t work for tackling this multifaceted disease
2018 | Jan | Launching our app from the Solve Colab platform
Feb | Launching our first field program in Pakistan
Mar- Dec | Launching other smaller Health Helpmate field programs in other countries
| Collecting month reports on each support group and its success or shortcomings
2019–2020 | Scaling our project to include other regions through enhanced partnerships and volunteer based assistance and following up on our progress closely next to the SDG’s Millennium Development Goals with regards to health and well being
HealthTrik is slightly similar to our solution in the sense that we both aim to use technology and specifically mobiles for integrating disease management. However besides that our core solution is different enough to be considered not relatable in most aspects.
They focus on creating and distributing a gadget for the disease management whereas I aim to use the available technology and provide the platform through an app. In addition to that I focus on how to reach those without the resources for either of these things.
Apart from that many solutions (including mine) were submitted on the very last days so I did not get a chance to read through them and find similarities in our proposals.
Reducing diabetes disparities through the implementation of a community health worker / Journal of Family and community health
Emerging models for mobilizing family support for chronic disease management / Ann Marie Rosland and John D Piette, Chronic Illness
Chronic Diseases in Developing Countries Health and Economic Burders / Rachel Nugent, Center for Global Development, Washington D.C
Chronic Disease a vital investment / World Health Organization
Chronic Disease and health promotion / World Health Organization
Health systems in an interconnected world; a view from Nigeria / Seye Abimbola
Grassroots Activism and Community Health Improvement / B. Zappia and D. Puntenney
Improving the Quality of Life for People with Arthritis / Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention
Mobile Health Program / Center for Managing Chronic Diseases
Mobile Health Support for heart failure patients and their informal caregivers / Piette, Striplin, Marinec, Chen, Aikens
Diabetes self-management through mHealth and enhanced informal caregiving / James, Kara, Ranak, John
Thank you for reading!
We hope you appreciate our work, select our solution and accept our call.
How can we help people prevent, detect and manage chronic diseases, especially in resources-limited settings?