The problem we solve: Social isolation is the greatest epidemic of our time and is proven to have negative health benefits: A lot of people with illness are isolated. There are 133mm people with illness and 77% go online and 50% say they can't find what they are looking for. Facebook and other popular social media sites used to be a solution, but now, it doesn't feel right to express the vulnerability these people need to feel less isolated and better. MCP is providing this safe space and proving it has healing benefits.
About our solution: MyCounterpane engenders trust between vulnerable users to support healing. We are a place where stories of living with illness are understood and a place where people are grateful for the chance to listen and relate to the challenges that you may be facing. Here, we put feelings first. The tools here allow you to track your moods publicly or privately over time. This ability to capture and reflect upon your journey provides new perspective and helps your mind and body focus on healing. Finding relatable moments of day-to-day challenges on MyCounterpane is easy. Every moment is tagged with a mood and searchable with keywords so you can be sure to find someone just like you. Sharing, commenting, caring and feeling supported gives users a new sense of purpose and a feeling of belonging. This reduces stress-induced hormone production and promotes healing. To see how people transform, you must watch an example of content! https://www.mycounterpane.com/get-inspired/1Progress to date:
We have launched a 2.0 platform that is built to scale. We now have 7 illness communities which we are working to grow through pilot partnerships with hospitals and influencers. We have made @$50K in revenue through testing formal partnerships. Though our total population is small (3600 users, growing @80 users a month), our engagement is off the charts. People not only engage for their own posts for up to 12 minutes a session, but they comment 4 times more than they post. We are also working with 4 institutions to prove how we are making people clinically better, including Johns Hopkins, the MIT Media Lab, UCSF and Columbia.
Creator: Kate Milliken
Location: New York
Bio: My name is Kate Milliken and I am determined to prove to the healthcare world that oversharing can be good for you. I am immersed in the personal stories of people living with chronic illness as the founder of MyCounterpane. I started this when I was diagnosed with MS in 2006. I saw a need for moment-based, first-hand content that could be tagged with an emotion to make it immediately helpful and easily searchable- I had wanted to find a person that knew from living with the illness that I was going to get better and now we have the largest content library of searchable moments living with MS and we are continuing to grow to other conditions and beyond. Pre- MS, I founded Milligrace Productions, a video production company specializing in mini-documentaries for private, corporate and non-profit clients. I have worked in television for more than 15 years, off camera as a producer for the View and VH-1 and as a correspondent in alternative sports (such as snowboarding, mountain biking and monster trucks) where I worked for Fox Sports NET, TNT, TNN the Outdoor Life Network and Oxygen. I have a master understanding of the power of the human testimonial in video and this is the angle which makes me different. Turns out in this day and age, this knowledge is timely and enormously powerful in conjunction with personal storytelling. I live in Bronxville, NY with a kickass husband and two young children, a son whose love for LeBron James is pure and a daughter who wages a daily war with a hairbrush.
CMO, Graduate of Bates College
Biography: Catalytic, big-thinking strategist with 20 years of experience showing leaders how to generate the type of honest value that earns their brands more than they ever thought was possible.
Advanced Degree(s): Graduate of Bates College
We have the ability to help patients who have a new diagnosis or are having an experience with their illness where they feel isolated and lonely. Through our platform, they can find an authentic moment from someones true life experience that will help them get perspective and feel better. As they engage and develop relationships with the other users, we give them a place to showcase their moments so they have an opportunity to help others. This is an online support group of the modern age, where patients journey daily in deep understanding of each other and relationships are created that are real. We can help people get through those stuck moments through giving them a way to track their journey and by supporting them every mood of the way.
Our goal for doctors and nurses, is to be able to refer MyCounterpane to their patients as a place where patients can find someone who makes them feel better. We believe our technology can instantly reduce those very real feelings of loneliness patients have who have a new diagnosis or a bad moment in their illness journey. Those moments are now proven have physical/clinical negative effects. We provide instant relatability and support. We are different than a live support group because the patient is introduced to our community and their specific experiences via searchable moments and they have complete control in who they meet. Over and over, we read and view the feelings of relief people have about finding someone who "truly gets it"..
In our market research, we have shown that users come to the site 1. In a phase of denial 2. Seeking information 3. Making treatment decisions 4. Managing their illness or 5. Wanting to pay it forward. Our users go in and out of these categories, emotionally up and down, but they all get led towards a sense of perspective as they are constantly reflecting with others in real time over time. Additionally, the technology graphs the emotional journey, and tracking those moments of positive and negative moments is affecting how patients view their illness journey (i:e "I am feeling bad today, but I realize that this month I've actually done pretty well"). We provide a linear way to document the journey. We are working with a stroke doctor who is asking patients to document their recovery because in the 6 month period after a stoke, there's a plateau and patients get discouraged. This is a way they can remind themselves how far they've come.
In the spirt of patients understanding their own power, we also have data with Johns Hopkins that shows that people who moodify over time have raised their sense of life purpose by over 30% and they're having less suicidal thoughts. The investigator on this project divided the patients into two subsets- one who never saw the monthly results from the quiz and the other who were given their results. All the positive data from this study was from the latter subset who could reflect on their own journey.
We really believe that we can make a huge difference in the costs and time affiliated with the patients who are fearful of the what ifs of their illness. Additionally, hospitals are now getting publicly rated. There is no greater positive review than a play by play testimonial of a grateful patient explaining how a care team made them or someone they love better. We put those authentic testimonials out into the world.
By patients documenting their emotional play by play in real time over time, we are creating authentic content moments at minimal cost and these moments will grow expondentially as we grow our communities. Hospitals are now getting publicly rated. There is no greater positive review than a play by play testimonial of a grateful patient explaining how a care team made them or someone they love better. We put those authentic testimonials out into the world, and incoming patients can find real experiences that are extremely comprehensive (versus a text testimonial or glossy produced video)- they really understand the emotional quality of the care that patient receives.
We want to find hospitals who are forward thinking and are wanting to take a holistic approach to their patients. Once we grow our communities, we will have a population who is documenting their journey linearly over time that is creating a longitudinal data set about living with illness where every data point is tagged with an emotion. We believe this qualitative angle will be a wonderful addition to research.
Pharma: Garner insights through deidentified data about patients living with illness over time. Last year, a Novartis researcher took 1700 Facbook posts and was able to hypothesize why patients were switching treatments. Our dataset is remarkably more robust in terms of the metadata and longitude.
Hospitals: Provide a way patients can publicize their experience with their care (we take the patient testimonial to a while new level). Also provide a way patients can work through their emotional stress with illness without contacting the provider (less readmissions etc).
Health insurance companies: Prove outcomes, reduce cost.
Organizations: Offer a wonderful framework to partner and create a community around a condition.
Key Milestones Achieved and Planned
We began with a $60K Indidgogo campaign that built our prototype. We launched a beta in one community and started getting wonderful engagement from the outset - over 11 minutes per session, a bounce rate of 27% and our users commenting 4x to every one post with around 1500 users on the platform. We raised $232K from family and friends and added a second community in mental health with a $40K revenue partnership deal with a mental healh organizations. We continued to grow our communities to over 2500 users. Through the traffic and growth, we raised an additional $400K and launched an offical platform in March of 2017 and are now at 3600 users. We have the ability to easily scale and have opened up a total of 7 communities which we are starting to grow- if we continue at our current rate, we will grow 30% by next year. We are negotiating with two hospitals for pilots, and are showing that with additional investment, we can market more users quickly. We're also working with two institutions (Johns Hopkins and the MIT Media Lab) to garner insights on how we are healing our users through the story of them.
Our Competitive Advantages
There are numerous platforms and sites working to cater to the chronic illness community outside of Facebook, but non of them capture the patient journey linearly, with video and mood tags the way we do. We have started to move away from directly comparing ourselves to these site and instead looking to the sites that are gamifying health, such as Strava and Headspcae. MyCounterpane is working to bring users in to journal their narrative in a way that can become a habit and lead to better health. Please see the deck for more detail on what makes us different.
Barriers to Entry
We have our IP patented, but it is simple enough that any of these organizations could choose to make a version of it. Our special sauce has to do with the way our users connect with the technology and also our top tier experience producing those personal stories into meaningful content for others.
Traction, Funding and Partners
We are working on our revenue model and believe once we get more scale we can introduce a subscription model to the individual and ultimately, to payers. We also believe with scale comes ad and revenue that can be prcured with data. Finally, we have been approached about licensing the technology off the platform into categories outside of chronic illness. We believe if we raise this $1MM we can get enough scale and traction to start generating revenue in all of these ways. We see users, hospitals, and payers as potenial clients for subscription, products and services for advertising, and pharma and health organizations for the data.
Please note since this was posted, MyCounterpane has initiated a pilot with a national non-profit called OneLove! We've also initiated additional research on efficacy with Columbia Presbyterian! Stay tuned!
Liked the project
I have seen this project and product grow over the last few years, and is changing the way people with chronic disease communicate and help each other through the process. Loneliness in suffering is not a good thing and this helps build a community of healing!
Love this project! Bravo, and thank you.
MyCounterpane has been a blessing. During the many years that my depression told me that I was the only one dealing with any pain or trauma, I found comfort and support in sharing my story with other's that understood what I was going through.
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