Environmental Public Health student involved in launching website for chronic illness sufferers

| Courtney Bolte

Individuals suffering from chronic illness face many daily challenges in dealing with long-lasting diseases that cannot be cured, but only controlled. A UW-Eau Claire student suffering from chronic illness herself has taken action and done something about it. Rachael Korinek, a senior majoring in Environmental Public Health was involved with the recent launch of Healclick.com, a website designed to help people with chronic illnesses manage their symptoms and find support.  

According to Korninek, most websites designed for people with chronic illness feature forums allowing users to post about their symptoms and interact with other sufferers in hopes of finding someone with similar symptoms with whom to share support and information. Healclick.com is unique because instead of posting on forums hoping by chance to find someone similar, Healclick allows users to enter their information and the website uses an algorithm to match them up with other users with similar symptoms. As someone with multiple diagnoses, Korinek understands how helpful this aspect of the site can be.

"Our site indexes your symptoms, your treatment, your diagnosis, demographics - everything, and then gives you an idea of how well you match with every other person on the site. This is incredibly helpful not just from a social aspect, but it has also been very helpful from a medical standpoint," she said.

She says that one of the best aspects of the site is that it offers people an immediate community of people who understand chronic illness, who care, and are positive and supportive. The long term goals of Healclick.com include making a positive impact on the daily lives of sufferers through use of research the site can generate.  

Korinek first got involved with the co-founders of Healclick.com over two years ago when they launched their first website, a site for young adults with neuro-immune conditions. She became a member of the site and was so impressed that when she learned about their plans for the future, she contacted them and they agreed to let her participate in the project.  

Working as is an intern for the site since June, she has been able to experience all of the different aspects of the project including business, marketing, technology development, public relations, user feedback, technical writing, and everything else that goes into developing a site.  Healclick.com officially launched on January 14th after spending six months being tested by 900 people. Within four weeks, the site had added about 1,200 more users. Currently, the Healclick team is working with blogs, Facebook groups, support groups, non-profit organizations and the media to get the word out about the website.  According to Korinek, her studies in environmental health align well with her work with Healclick.

"The Environmental Public Health program is focused on the healthand well-being of the general public, HealClick is just focused in on a smaller subset. I use a lot of information I've learned in my classes while working an dam really thankful for the broad educational background that has prepared me for such a wide variety of situations," she said.

Korinek will work in an EPA research fellowship this summer and graduate in December. In regards to her internship with Healclick, she says she is passionate about the project and plans to continue to use her personal experience and passion for environmental public health to help others through the website.