I have been invited to become part of the Wellsphere network, as a featured blogger in the Disability Support Service community. That means that posts from Access Ability will be available to Wellsphere community members from within the site.
If you’ve not heard of Wellsphere, the information I was provided in the invitation read:
“Wellsphere is a fast growing, next-generation online platform that is revolutionizing the way people find and share health and healthy living information and services. Our platform connects millions of users with the valuable insights and knowledge from health leaders and knowledgeable writers.”
And, if that isn’t enough, the following text is from the Wellsphere “About” page:
Wellsphere builds online healthy living communities that help people ‘Get active, Eat better and Unwind’. Wellsphere’s groundbreaking platform works by connecting each member with local health and wellness resources, classes and activities that match their unique interests and goals, and with the personalized advice and social support they need to sustain healthy habits. The company hosts a public website for consumers at http://www.wellsphere.com and creates proprietary communities (such as BeWell@Stanford ) for large organizations seeking to improve the health and well being of their members and reduce their healthcare costs. Wellsphere is headquartered in San Mateo, California.
Founders Ron Gutman and Dave Kashen started the company based on a vision for helping to solve the country’s health crisis and a passion for helping people improve their well-being. From the obesity epidemic to the rise of inactivity to the high levels of stress found across America, our country is not exactly in good shape. Most of us know at least a few things we could do to improve our well-being, but haven’t quite gotten around to doing them yet. Both Ron and Dave know from personal experience the incredible impact that becoming more active and eating better can have on people’s lives (yea, they’re still working on the relaxation part, but 2 out of 3 is a good start). Turns out making changes is HARD. So, they gathered a group of some of the brightest minds across Stanford’s graduate schools and asked one simple question: “How do we help people improve their own lives?” Hundreds of interviews, research papers and concept tests later, they uncovered two big ideas that have formed the core of Wellsphere:
• Personalization. There is a TON of generic information in print and on the web about how much cardio you should do, how many calories you shouldn’t eat, etc. etc. Unfortunately, most of us actually have a lot going on in our lives beyond reading books to figure out what a cardio is and how many calories are in our raspberry vinaigrette dressing. So, we need solutions that are simple, relevant, easy to understand, and (drum roll please) actually work for real people. And, who best to uncover these mystifying solutions? You! And you, and you, and you. The ‘right’ solution is the one that works for you, and the best way to know what that will be is to find people like you and see what worked for them. No more reading articles from unknown scientists in hidden laboratories. Find out what really works from people just like you, and once you do, tell a few more people (and they’ll tell 2 friends, and they’ll tell 2 friends) and before we know it, we’ll all be a bit happier, a bit healthier and having a LOT more fun in the world.
• Social support & community. We heard the proverb that ‘It takes a village.’ Improving your life (now matter how much you want to do it) is a hard thing to do. In our research, we found nothing more helpful than having the support and motivation of friends in enabling people to make whatever changes they want in our lives, and keeping them accountable for sticking with it. Of course, not everyone wants to make changes, some people just want to have more fun, get outside and play more. Well, it turns out community is great for that too!
• Incentives. Of course the best reward for making healthier choices is how great it makes you feel, but sometimes it takes a little while before you really notice. Getting rewarded for making even small changes can give you that little extra push you need to stay motivated.
With this in mind, we created Wellsphere, and have had a great experience testing out some of the concepts from our research. We heard firsthand from community members what they thought would be helpful.