In 2010, one-third of the country was living with some sort of chronic disease, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. That same research found that 51 percent of adults living with a chronic disease went online to find information about their disease, medical procedures or prescription drug information.
An online community started by Sean Ahrens, called Healthy Labs, is geared towards those living with chronic health conditions. A sufferer of Crohn's disease, Ahrens wanted to make it possible for patients living with disease to connect with one another for support, treatment options and experiences with medication.
The project started after Ahrens built a web tool to track his health during alternative therapy treatment for his chronic disease. He teamed up with Will Cole, a computer science student at University of California, Berkeley, to found the social network "Crohnology."
At the time, the site was geared toward users in San Francisco with Crohn's disease with the hopes of providing feedback for doctors as well as patients on different kinds of treatment. Months after its creation, the site had over 1,000 users and a database of 9,000 treatment reviews from patients.
This virtual destination also provides a much needed resource for the newly diagnosed or for those who have to deal with chronic illness alone.
Healthy Labs is receiving funding from Y Combinator, a startup incubator that has funded companies like reddit and Dropbox when they first began. With this funding, Ahrens hopes to expand Healthy Labs to include other chronic diseases.