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Cancer Support Reimagined: Web Tool Focuses on 'Other Half of Care'

Entrepreneur: Kristin MacDermott
Business name: Reimagine
Years in business: 1
Website address: http://www.reimagine.me

When professional counselor Kristin MacDermott's mother was diagnosed with cancer, she learned an important lesson: Cancer patients are still people, and they don't want to be defined by their disease. This lesson was solidified through her work with her oncology clients, who wanted concrete tools and skills to deal with not only the emotional burden of their diagnosis, but their financial issues, workplace challenges and strained relationships — the same life stressors that everyone else experiences.

After working with social worker and author Tina Staley to develop a unique counseling curriculum for the nonprofit cancer-support organization, Pathfinders, MacDermott realized that the classes worked, but the one-on-one delivery method couldn't effectively reach the large number of individuals who needed it. In 2013, MacDermott and Staley founded Reimagine, a Web-based educational platform that brings professional social and emotional support — what they call "the other half of care" — to anyone with Internet access.

Reimagine co-founder Kristin MacDermott Credit: Reimagine.me

Reimagine relies on many tech tools to bring its innovative education program to cancer patients and their loved ones. MacDermott discussed the role of technology in bringing her business to life.

Business News Daily: What problem were you hoping to solve when you started your business?

Kristin MacDermott: Medicine treats cancer, but does nothing to help people with the social and emotional issues associated with the illness and, in fact, often exacerbates feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and isolation. Failure to address the psychosocial issues associated with cancer results in more time in the hospital, higher medical expenses, worse outcomes and lower quality-of-life. We have a program that helps people feel better, and now we can deliver it to people all across the country in a way that is affordable and accessible to virtually everyone.

BND: Could your business have existed 20 years ago?

K.M.: Our business model could not have existed 20 years ago. The technology to bring people from around the country together in live, video conference classrooms with highly skilled teachers simply didn't exist. Only in the last decade has the technology evolved that allows everyone with a smartphone, computer or tablet to access live classes in a way that promotes learning, interactive engagement, and connection — all from the comfort of people's own homes. [Affordable Video Conferencing Solutions for Businesses]

BND: What technologies have most helped your business?

K.M.: Reimagine members need to be able to access an online classroom and take classes with a live instructor. In order to coordinate our members and live instructors in online classrooms, our business is reliant on online scheduling software and a Web-based meeting system. This needs to be a seamless experience in order for our members to feel safe, engaged and connected to each other and to our teachers and experts.

Privacy is of the utmost importance to us at Reimagine. It's vital that our members be able to access a private space and feel comfortable sharing and connecting. We've employed the highest in security standards to make this possible.

BND: What technology can't you live without?

K.M.: We cannot live without the ability to connect socially online. The Community area of our site is a place where members can connect further with their classmates and truly build upon the tools and skills they've learned in class. We created our social community based on the current standard of social pages that exist throughout the Web. The difference is that ours is private and highly curated. Everything discussed within our community is designed and dedicated to helping people feel better.

BND: What technology do you wish existed that doesn't?

K.M.: One that cures cancer! We are big supporters of furthering cancer research and know that technology plays a huge role in this.

BND: What are the most valuable non-tech skills an entrepreneur needs?

K.M.: Vision coupled with planning and execution skills, perseverance, and never taking "no" as the end.

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Nicole Fallon

Nicole received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the managing editor. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.