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The other half of care for serious illnesses

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When one is diagnosed with a serious and devastating diagnosis such as cancer, healthcare professionals are available to treat the medical issues. However, the other half of care is dealing with the emotional aspects of the illness that not only impact the patient but also family and friends. To deal with that half of the equation, a Los-Angeles-based Internet community, Reimagine, is available. Its mantra is: “Welcome to the place where you don't just get better, you feel better. Reimagine cancer... Reimagine everything.” To gain insight into this innovative program, I interviewed co-founder Kristin MacDermott.

Kristin notes that healthcare professionals treating patients with serious illnesses are not able to help them with the anxiety, fear, and confusion from which they suffer. The Reimagine website fills that void. Numerous websites are available that provide information on a disease; however, they do not go beyond disseminating information. Reimagine allows the subscriber the opportunity to attend a cyber-classroom with a live instructor skilled in healthcare counseling together with 11 other participants. Communication between the instructor and the participants is present—the experience is similar to an actual classroom setting. The sessions are offered at different times to accommodate the subscribers’ schedules. The basic training course consists of nine sessions and is priced at $399. The subscription includes lifetime membership in Reimagine, course materials, and access to advanced courses, priced at $20 a session. A lifetime membership for the patient and caregiver is priced at $100 more: $499.

Other benefits of membership include the informative magazine, which provides unlimited access to exclusive expert blogs, videos, articles, and stories. Other membership benefits include: unlimited access to the Reimagine video library; live conversations with thought leaders and experts; and the ability to connect with other members. I expressed concern to Kristin that the membership fee, despite offering a wealth of information, might be a monetary issue for patients who are dealing with healthcare costs and other financial problems such as loss of employment. She explained that she has found that 70-80% of cancer patients spend a significant amount on supplements, alternative therapy, and many other ancillary treatments. She notes that the membership is comparable in cost to three massages.

I asked Kristen about the level of expertise of the instructors. She noted that a minimum requirement is a master’s degree in a psychology field. In addition, the instructors undergo 200 hours of training before they can enter a cyber-classroom. More information is available at the Reimagine website. The site also provides one the opportunity to: explore the university (self-assessment, preview of basic Training, and preview of advanced courses); the magazine (limited access to expert blogs and videos, and limited access to articles and stories); and the community (limited access to the reimagine video library).