Reachout: A Free App Connecting People Fighting Serious Illnesses

Cancer, Diabetes, Heart disease, Mental Illness, Substance Abuse, and More

Did you ever wish you could engage people using social media in a more focused and dedicated way?  Let’s say you were just diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Let’s say the specific diagnosis is diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, or DLBCL.

In this scenario, you may not want to wade through posts about zoo animals, lifestyle pride, pets that do tricks and clever memes about something a politician has just said.

Still, the magic of social media is that you can potentially connect with someone who has the same diagnosis as you, or perhaps someone who has recently undergone treatment for DLBCL—someone you can learn from and share your worries and experiences with.

And while the leading social networking platforms do allow you to search for specific content—and in the case of Twitter, index conversations by using hashtags—wouldn’t it be nice to have a more focused, dedicated platform?

The Reachout App

That is precisely what this new app aims to do, according to a recent press release and materials presented on the Reachout website.

“Reachout is a completely new, free, and first-of-its-kind app designed to provide support, community, compassion, and long-lasting connections to people worldwide battling life-threatening diseases,” reads the description in the initial release." Based on the significant scientific findings that social support and community help individuals fight through debilitating diseases, Reachout aspires to be the go-to platform for people all over the world fighting for their lives."

The app launched its platform in May of 2016 and is available for download on Android and iOS. Reachout is designed to provide dedicated social support platforms for people affected by cancer, diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, substance abuse and death. Users are able to ask questions, share experiences, offer opinions, and get feedback on difficult situations.

There will also be a “My Story” section where users can describe their situation and support others along their difficult paths.

Privacy, Advertising, and Use of Data

Based on the FAQs about the Reachout App, if you are a very private person, this tool may not be for you. In response to requests for private messaging and private video conference abilities, the site reads as follows:

“If two people have a conversation about let’s say, ‘chest pain heart disease’ in private, the two gain out of it. If they have the same conversation about it in the open, anyone else who might be interested in that topic might chime in as well, adding to their gain, and more importantly, many more users later on can read about this and gain from it. For the benefit of your fellow users, please discuss in the open and say no to private messaging tools.”

But if you are willing to share, or even perhaps if all you want to do is read about others, this app plans to offer something for people dealing with a variety of serious conditions. And, regarding plans for advertisers, the Reachout team notes the following, “We hate advertisements as much as you do. We don’t plan to sell advertisements in the app.”

Social Influences on Health

Human beings are social creatures, and social interactions can factor in to the pathophysiology of a wide range of diseases.

Perhaps the best-studied cancer with respect to social support is breast cancer.

Nearly 25 years ago, social isolation was identified as one of the most important risk factors for all-cause mortality, and multiple studies have reported similar findings since that time. In contrast, social integration is associated with lower overall disease-related mortality rates.

Now, there are many different types of social integration, and no one app can claim the mantle of health-related social integration, but that integration—whatever the source, seems to be important.


For more information, or to download Reachout for iOS and Android, visit

Hinzey A, Gaudier-Diaz MM, Lustberg MB, et al. Breast cancer and social environment: getting by with a little help from our friends. Breast Cancer Res. 2016;18:54.