Social media for good: Tapping a positive, healing force of co-caring. About Vytality
By Minda Aguhob
Ever wonder who will really be there for you in your time of need? To be honest, I never used to either. As an independent, competitive and driven woman, I always set goals for myself — whether practicing to become a Juilliard-trained concert pianist or training to become a nationally ranked triathlete.
After several years of races, training swims, runs and rides, I experienced what so many of friends and fellow athletes dread— a serious accident. When I came to 24 hours later:
I am lying in a hospital bed clinging to my life and learning from my medical team that I was recovering from a traumatic brain injury. I am still alive because a fellow cyclist had resuscitated me after I flew over the handlebars of my bike on a hilly stretch of road in upstate New York.
It’s been three days now, and I am discharged from the hospital with a long, complicated care plan for myself. Luckily, my amazing family, friends and doctors, boss and an excellent health insurance plan are there for me; but how do I ask for these things, when you’re seen as an independent, driven woman — the one who usually provides support? I’m brain-injured, hello??
Who can get me groceries?
Who are the good neuropsychologists here?
Who can help me schedule follow-up visits? And help me travel there?
Who can help me file insurance claims for my bills?
Who will listen to me?
I am crazy depressed... will I be disabled permanently? I have total amnesia of my accident, and near total amnesia of the hospital stay and the week following. I still need help to get down the stairs to walk one block.
My family, friends and acquaintances expressed well wishes; however, it took weeks, months and even years for many of us to connect through our networks. (Yes, even with Google and Facebook.) And it didn’t help that I tried to do my own caregiving for days, by myself, delaying help from my community.
Now do you wonder who’s there for you?
If you’re wondering who would help you handle this caregiving predicament, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, my experience is very common. Every day, more than 150 million Americans wake up to a chronic health condition, 61 million to a disability. There’s over 43 million unpaid caregivers overwhelmed with these needs, including caring for over 47 million elderly. And many more millions dealing with chronic pain, food sensitivities, and other lifestyle challenges.
Health goals get interrupted every day — whether by serious accidents, or the regular distractions of daily life. Only physical and emotional support from others, from trusted sources, can truly help us in our time of greatest need.
Luckily, many of us love to serve others, and work together to realize our goals. Today, there are 77 million volunteers engaging with their local governments, corporate and nonprofit volunteer initiatives.
But helpful people don’t always know where their energy can go to make a difference.
That’s why after having recovered from my accident, I decided to dedicate myself to developing a social support network for “co-caring” to serve all of us.
Today, I want to share the Vytality co-caring social app with you. It connects people so we can 1) be well-cared for, and 2) give support to our own network of family and friends, elders, patients, disabled, and wider community managing multiple chronic diseases and conditions. Vytality is a social support app with a feed for sharing your health and caring goals and needs, making it easier for family, friends and organizations to connect and communicate for mutual support. It even provides you and your loved ones with services from organizations and individuals, whose services are reviewed and validated by fellow users.
The Vytality community is also a culture of helpers — a social support network for you and your loved ones, online and offline.
My co-founders Scott Forgey, Christine Tran and I were born to solve this problem. We are community builders who are committed to ensuring that each of us is well-cared for and vital, with a trusted social support network to foster robust physical and emotional support for caregivers, elders, disabled & patients managing multiple chronic diseases and conditions.
My professional background is as a health researcher-educator and data scientist involved with health policy-making, who developed a nationally adopted ed tech product and also organized hundreds of volunteers during Hurricane Sandy. Scott’s work transforms the cultures of LinkedIn, PayPal not to mention the Dalai Lama’s monks. And Chris’ PhD work is cracking the code on developing social networks to support health goals.
Each of us have been hospital patients and caregivers. Alongside 30 designers, developers, researchers and community builders, my co-founders and I at Vytality are building a truly exceptional co-caring app & community that is transforming health and caring for everyone.
Our partner organizations, patients and caregivers know that active social engagement has enormous health and wellness benefits. Vytality combines group support and accountability for health goals, with high quality data on social support to provide private opportunities for service through trusted individuals and partners our users can choose from.
Every day, millions of Americans wake up to serious health challenges. And even more of us wake up to serve our fellow Americans: from unpaid informal caregivers to helping professionals, from national patient organizations to corporate volunteer initiatives, to services of our governments.
The Vytality co-caring app offers over 200 million Americans a home to engage and connect in an efficient, timely way, without a lot of hard work, multiple conversations, referrals, and often just sheer luck. It connects individuals and organizations and individuals on the ground and online.
From our collective vulnerabilities, we find cause for tapping a huge community of help, at 200 million strong or more — a truly innovative, major force for positive actions that heal our world.
Consider offering skills, resources and services as an organizational partner or as an individual, and sharing your needs with our network. We look forward to connecting with you — people who care. And, who need care.
“Vytality provided a record of what my girlfriend and I did for recovery after my surgery, and helped inspire me to be more engaged in my own care. We’re now using the beta to record and update each other on our fitness goals.”
-G.W., Vytality Early Access user
Experience the Vytality co-caring app for yourself. Sign-up today to join Vytality Health’s Early Access beta, and share about the most helpful people, providers and organizations you know on our Early Access survey.
About the Author
Minda Aguhob, Chief People Officer and Co-Founder of Vytality Health
Minda Aguhob is a health advocate and data scientist who’s focused on the challenge of bringing communities together using technology in a “humanizing” way. With over 20 years of experience in health and education tech, she originated and co-founded Vytality Health, a social support network for people with health challenges, with fellow entrepreneur Scott Forgey and digital health specialist Christine Tran. The company is currently beta testing Vytality, a mobile app for co-caring that creates co-caring circles of support with customized information so people can achieve their health and caring aims.