Vitalxchange launches novel platform for parents of children with disabilities
Vitalxchange launches a comprehensive platform to support parents caring for disability and special needs.
Cleveland-based health tech company, Vitalxchange, has launched its novel virtual services platform to empower families caring for neurodiversity, special needs, and disability. Founded by repeat MedTech entrepreneurs Charu Ramanathan and Ketal Patel, Vitalxchange’s mission is to enable caregivers to find direct access to guidance rather than solely relying on public schools, non-profits, or government programs.
A static landscape of disability caregiving
Today, each American family coordinates a fragmented care landscape of 5+ resources, some provided by the public schools and some from the healthcare system. Even 46 years after passing the IDEA (Individuals with Disability Education Act) and FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) laws, the landscape remains nearly unchanged.
A Company catalyzed by personal experiences
The duo had separate but very similar negative experiences while addressing their respective children’s learning and behavioral issues at their local public schools. Without proper guidance, both ended up fighting with the schools and moving their children to costly private schools to get the much-needed nurturing and support for their children.
They realized that they failed to advocate for their children and were denied the opportunity to engage early on and help their children thrive in the public school system. While supporting each other through these tough times, they realized the opportunity at hand to create a solution where parents would have access to personalized and reliable guidance necessary to make informed decisions. In interviewing hundreds of families, it was clear that the advice would be much more impactful if parents had the opportunity to connect with other peers with lived experiences as well as experienced professionals.
Evolution of a thoughtful platform
The team spent most of 2021 curating and qualifying a team of ‘VitalGuides’ – experienced parent mentors and special needs providers to serve as care navigators and coaches. In parallel, they built out the Vitalxchange platform as a two-sided marketplace with VitalGuides on the supply side and parents needing support on the demand side. The platform includes VXMAX, a web application serving as ‘practice in a box’ for VitalGuides to deliver their services. It includes virtual service delivery via HIPPA compliant video calls, in-app private messaging, groups, courses, appointment management, and payments integration. Parents can access VitalGuides services anytime via a web application or a mobile application. It is important to note that the services are entirely geared towards addressing parent coaching vs. therapy for the child.
The platform’s matching expert system is quite impressive. It uses proprietary technology to match each parent’s situation with a specific VitalGuide solution based on their need and phase in the parenting journey. The platform has 150+ VitalGuide solutions covering each aspect of special needs parenting with standardized and affordable pricing. Here are some examples of services that provide an idea of the granularity as well as the variety of parenting solutions:
The ‘Uber’ of special needs
Vitalxchange has been described by its users as an ‘Uber for special needs’ in that it connects each qualified provider (Uber driver) to a parent in need (Uber passenger). Every VitalGuide session incorporates practical do-it-yourself strategies and is designed to save the parent time and engage better in their child’s development, resulting in positive outcomes for both the child and their parent.
“I have been very fortunate to have had opportunities to build life-saving solutions for healthcare from cancer to cardiology. This platform is close to my heart. It uses an intelligent system built on machine learning principles to foster vital connections that empower parents with information, guidance, and support. Our vision is to replicate this playbook for other health conditions where self-empowerment makes all the difference”. – Ketal Patel, CTO and Co-founder of Vitalxchange.
The beginning of a scalable transformation
The platform has been in a ‘soft launch’ mode since June 2021 to allow time to recruit VitalGuides and iterate based on user feedback from 2500+ parent users. With this official launch, the Company hopes to accelerate its outreach directly to parents and partner with schools, early intervention centers, support organizations, and employers to provide much-needed support for families.
“Launching this platform has been a life’s mission for both of us. We want to empower parents to do their best to help their children thrive. We want to improve the quality of life of caregivers who are already three times more likely to have chronic illnesses. We believe we commenced an impactful transformation in this space where a caregiver can take charge rather than solely be at the mercy of government or philanthropic support” – Charu Ramanathan, Ph.D. CEO and Co-founder of Vitalxchange.
As Dr. Ramanathan remarks, this is just the beginning for Vitalxchange. It continues to leverage the tailwinds created by the pandemic to create a new solution landscape to serve 22 million US families caring for children with developmental delays or disabilities.