At the start of 2015, a close relative of mine fell ill — sudden onset of heart disease. Not knowing anything about the disease, I sought help online. I went looking for apps and
forums where I could discuss the disease. I couldn’t find any. As we lived through the ups and
downs of the illness and bypass surgery, I couldn’t
help think how depressing it was and how it
would help my relatives if they could connect with
others going through the same thing. Or those
who have gone through it before and lived to tell
the tale. To talk to someone, who feels what you
feel, has got to be uplifting for both. Social support from people who feel your pain is invaluable.
How valuable it would be to have someone to
discuss living with the disease with? What the
future holds, how to handle kids, what kind of
foods to avoid, how to get back to normalcy, how
to continue working — a whole number of questions only people who have gone through it can
There is enough research to make the case that
social support improves the outcome in chronic
conditions. But there is very little available, in
terms of resources, for such patients.
I sought the help of technology to fill that void.
In September 2015, I started developing a platform to connect people suffering from life-threatening conditions. With the help of my wife, Dr
Rashmi Jain, a pediatrician in the area, I narrowed it down
to six main health conditions I wanted to focus on. These
were life-threatening chronic conditions that we thought
needed social support.
The health conditions that were the focus of the app are:
Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental illness, substance
abuse and death.
The project has been blessed from the very beginning. I
came across an awesome team that helped me develop the
app. I found volunteers from 30 different countries beta
test the app for free. As a result the app was officially
launched for iOS and Android on March 21 this year. The
first of its kind, it’s a completely free, user-driven, social
support app for chronic life threatening conditions and is
called Reachout ( www.Reachout.life)
It is my belief that people help people. And in doing so it
is therapeutic to both parties. Instead of going the conven-
tional route of counselors and caregivers talking to
patients, I developed an open platform where there are no
patients, no counselors. Just people conversing with each
other — discussing their problems and concerns, offering
their opinions and sometimes a shoulder to cry on and
making lifelong friends in the process.
I wanted to create a non-competitive environment, where
users are not competing for more likes or more friends.
Rather a platform where everyone is friends and offer each
other support or seek it when they so need — help each
other through the rough times of their lives.
In three short months the platform has grown at a steady
pace. I have received feedback from users expressing their
love for the app and how they feel great offering help to
others, as well as receiving it. And that they consider the
users of Reachout as their friends and extended family.
Since the release of the app, we have seen users join
from all over the world. We have also received support
from several doctors, cardiologists, endocrinologists,
nurse practitioners and hospitals who joined Reachout in
Among the several heartwarming stories from Reachout
users, here are a few special ones:
An 18 year old with type-1 diabetes, offers to help others
who join the app and have questions about diabetes. He
loves doing so.
A user who underwent heart transplant surgery is full of
life and vigor. She offers very positive and uplifting advice
to people on the app, especially to those looking for help in
the heart disease section.
Another user went through a trauma and brain injury
after an accident. She joined the app when she needed
support and is now a regular user. She offers her support
to anyone needing it in the mental illness section of the
So far it has been a great start.
I am very excited to be able to offer something back to
I hope to see Reachout become the trusted source of
social support for the millions out there who really need
I look to all of you to help spread the word. n
Sunil Modi is an entrepreneur who has been running an
Sunil Modi on the
IT consulting company for the past 14 years. Reachout is
his personal project, that he has been funding himself so
far. He welcomes connections from people interested in
joining the project. You may reach him via Facebook or
leave a comment on his website: www.Reachout.life
story behind an app
he developed to give
the chronically ill a
sense of solidarity
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
We can all
FOR YOUR HEALTH THE MAGAZINE