Finding people who’ve been in your shoes

December 30, 2015

a special needs mom with a pregnant woman
Jennifer Chung, founder of Kinsights

Jennifer Chung, founder of Kinsights

Kinsights is a site that connects parents — and is a fantastic resource for parents of children with special needs, disabilities, or illness. Kinsights also stores important medical information and records, making it easy to keep everything organized and have fast access to it when you need it.

Jennifer Chung, Kinsight’s founder, was kind enough to chat with us:

What sparked the idea of Kinsights and what do you think is the most essential part that has made your company such a success?

The idea was born from Dr. Carol Wilkinson’s experience as a pediatrician (she is the Kinsights Medical Director) – she saw that parents were often coming to appointments with lists of questions, but many of their concerns could be addressed in a more relevant, actionable way by other parents who share similar experiences.  But there weren’t great alternatives to facilitate these interactions between parents.  Parents would often turning to busy and cluttered parenting forums, where the information can often be confusing or misleading.
We take a very different approach to the parent experience within our community.  As a parent uses Kinsights, we’re able to better understand their interests, health concerns, content preferences, whose opinions they value, where they need help, and how they can help the community.
When a parent poses a question, we’re able to identify the subset of parents who are most able to provide guidance. For example, the parent of a preemie with cerebral palsy dealing with separation anxiety can get advice from a parent who has experienced with the same combination of concerns. And quality matters – the community votes up thoughtful, thorough answers and the questioner selects the answer that best addresses his/her needs.

Can you tell me more about your personalized matching system? And the private groups?

We leverage a unique relevance engine to connect our users to the right groups of parents – so whether you are dealing with a medical condition or seeking recommendations on local schools, we can find parents within our network that have local and/or topical knowledge and experience. We can also recommend resources and support groups, based on your profile, interests, and concerns.
We partner with organizations – parent groups, non-profits, and employers – to create customized communities within our platform.  Some of these are public groups that our parents can join, and others are completely private groups, only accessible to their existing community.

Kinsights wasn’t created specifically for kids with serious health conditions, was it? How did special needs and acute care become such a big draw for people to your community?

Kinsights was created to serve all parents – whether you were dealing with a behavioral issue, needed help finding a school, or have a child with a medical condition.  As soon as we launched a tool for parents to start their own groups, parents started creating support groups for their child’s condition. What we’ve found is that parents of children with rare or complex medical conditions often have a day-to-day need for a community of parents who have truly been in their shoes before, as they navigate the social, emotional, and healthcare challenges their family faces.

How does Kinsights work if a person’s medical records are currently on paper? Can users sync their Kinsights account with their doctor’s office?

Parents enter and track data on their child’s health, and we make this process extremely easy – we use industry-standard vocabularies in the background and an incredibly intuitive, easy-to-use interface that enables parents to track problem lists, medications, developmental milestones, immunizations, and more. We’re starting to collaborate with a few partners that will facilitate data entry from paper records into our health record.

Kinsights seems like a natural extension of the quantified self movement. Is that accurate?

In some ways, yes, in that we help parents track data on their child’s health – but we focus heavily on the actionable end of that data.  For our parents, health data provides some initial context – and as a parent uses Kinsights and engages with the platform, we’re able to better understand their interests and needs, so we can surface relevant content and community members.

Do you have a personal story you’d like to share with us about your connection to healthcare and caregiving aside from your scientific, clinical and professional endeavors?

I’m part of the sandwich generation – I have a 4-year-old son and parents in their late 70’s.  Luckily, I have two sisters and we often split up responsibilities and check in with each other frequently.  Connecting with other adults who are feeling pulled in both directions has been incredibly valuable for me – most of the time I just need a patient ear, but sometimes I also need well-researched advice.  In many ways, Kinsights serves that same purpose for parents all over the country.

What is the main takeaway you want readers to know about the goals and mission of Kinsights? Is there any advice you can give to caregivers?

The connection between parent mental and emotional health and outcomes for children has been demonstrated in studies across multiple pediatric conditions. Traditional online communities can address the need for an emotional connection, but they are often the gateway to information overload. Kinsights facilitates those peer-to-peer connections, while providing smart filters that improve both the quality and relevance of interactions, so that parents feel supported instead of overwhelmed.
Want to find out more? Visit the Kinsights website to sign up or connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.
Written by Cori Carl
As Director, Cori is an active member of the community and regularly creates resources for people providing care.

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