Review of Alike: The Best App To Support Health and Chronic Illness Management
Disclaimer: This post and the Alike app are in no way replacements for medical care or diagnosis for chronic illness management or mental health. I am not a medical professional, and this post is a review for potential app users, not medical advice.
Content Warning: In this article, I will be discussing eating disorder recovery.
Meet The Health and Chronic Illness Management App That Is Actually Good For You
First off, let’s just get this out of the way: Hurrah! An app for health and wellness that has nothing to do with weight and weight loss!Let’s take a moment to appreciate that!
Phew. Okay, moving on.
Ya’ll. Alike is really cool. At first, the concept of it caught me off guard, but once I started using the app, I was really excited by it. I loved it so much that I started telling all my friends and family about the app, whose initial reactions were also cautious and suspicious. Once you download the app, which is totally free, and experience it for yourself, I’m betting you’ll change your mind. I was instantly blown away by the engaged and supportive community of people who understand what I go through as someone with chronic illnesses and mental illnesses.
Access to Care for People With Chronic Illnesses is Hard to Find in the US
As an American, I’ve experienced many barriers to holistic healthcare. The American healthcare system is flawed, leaving many to either avoid getting help or not have access to treatment at all. Aside from the financial barriers of health insurance and cost of care, the US healthcare system is rife with fatphobia, racism, homophobia, and transphobia. That being said, if you are experiencing health issues, physically, mentally, or emotionally, there is no replacement for the care of a medical professional. This website can help uninsured folks get affordable care in the US and this website can help those with financial burdens to relieve their medical debt.
Let’s dive into what Alike is and how it can help alleviate some of the stress from dealing with chronic illnesses on our own.
What does Alike do?
Alike is a completely anonymous platform that matches you to your ‘medical twins’ or people who have similar diagnoses, comorbidities, and symptoms. From there, you can chat with people who understand what you’re going through to share tips, solutions, or support surrounding chronic illnesses.
Here’s a quick look at the app interface when you open it. This is my profile, some of the general wellness chats which are fun and illuminating, and my Alikes sorted by diagnosis.
How does Alike get your medical information?
You can either manually input your medical info into the app or Alike can automatically populate your data from your healthcare provider’s online portal. Whichever way you choose to input data, Alike is completely secure, will never share your data with anyone, and has end-to-end encryption to protect your information and adhere to HIPAA guidelines. The company was actually founded by a Cybersecurity pioneer, a Physician, and a Data Scientist. Learn more about privacy with Alike here.
How much does Alike cost?
Alike is absolutely free, creating a no-barrier platform for people to communicate with others about diagnoses, chronic illnesses, and solutions to medical issues.
My Experience With Alike
For me, it was hard to grasp the impact this app could have on me until I downloaded it and used it. I have a number of chronic illnesses and mental health issues that I was able to input into Alike. Here are some examples of interactions I had on the app over the past month or so that made an impact on me.
I was diagnosed with HS about 8 years ago when I was in college. It’s a particularly painful skin condition that causes painful boils under the skin, often in groups on parts of the body where skin rubs together. Fighting HS can often be a lonely journey since it’s a painful chronic issue that can limit mobility, it appears on parts of the body like the groin and armpits and leaves unsightly marks and scars. It’s not something that I talk about often because it’s a very unpleasant experience that not many people would understand if they haven’t gone through it.
I’ve visited many dermatologists about this issue, and have gotten medicated pads and antibiotics for particularly bad flare-ups. I’ve been a part of the HS subreddit for a long time, which is a supportive space that can provide support and advice but can often be overwhelming.
I was matched with a number of Alikes who also suffered from HS, one in particular shared a tip with me from her dermatologist that helped her HS flare-ups considerably. She said using a specific type of medical wash called Hibicleanse in conjunction with Head and Shoulders dandruff shampoo used as a body wash had basically cured her of HS. It seemed strange but I was not opposed to trying anything to help.
In the few weeks since I’ve started using these two products, my HS is gone, with no flare-ups or painful bumps at all. I will always have scarring, which is okay with me, but having relief from the fear of a flare-up is huge. Just this one single interaction on Alike was a game-changer for me. The products that relieved my symptoms cost under $10, too.
Intervertebral Disc Displacement
I first damaged my lower back a few years back when I was boxing. Along with a torn rotator cuff, I also sustained damage to a disc in my low back. In 2020, I slipped it fully and ended up in the hospital in a lot of pain. Since then, I’ve been doing regular physical therapy along with other lifestyle changes because there really is no cure to disc issues.
On Alike, I joined a conversation about different chairs and cushions people use for the Degenerative Disc issues. I’ve gotten a slightly better desk chair along with a sitting/standing desk to help relieve the pressure on my lower back, but I never thought of adding a special cushion to my desk chair or car seat. I’m so looking forward to trying this out because nothing makes my back hurt worse than long car rides or prolonged sitting for any reason.
Eating disorders are extremely hard to deal with alone, and finding online communities for support can be nearly impossible. Pro-ana, pro-mia, and pro-ED forums have been around online since the 90s.
What is beautiful about Alike when finding solidarity for those seeking recovery from eating disorders is that accounts are completely anonymous, there are no large groups, and there is no sharing of photographs or personal information. In my experience on the app, this has taken away the risk for unhealthy behaviors being shared or enabled. I’ve only found support and sharing of recovery journeys or methods.
Unfortunately in the US, eating disorder treatment is expensive, and insurance is not likely to cover it unless the patient is extremely underweight. Eating disorders display differently because we all have different bodies. This keeps so many people suffering from ED from getting treatment. Having Alikes who struggle with the same issues can be the lifeline someone needs, and can even help point them in the right direction of affordable care and online support groups.
After using Alike for a month, I am impressed, to say the least. So many health and wellness apps cause more harm than good, focusing on things like weight loss and physical activity without taking into account that everyone’s body is different, health looks different to everyone depending on their personal history with chronic illness, and the importance of factoring in mental health. Alike does all of these things.
The app makes it abundantly clear that it is not a replacement for medical care or diagnosis. It does provide validation and solidarity, especially when it comes to ‘invisible’ chronic illnesses. Moreover, it empowers me to ask my doctors better questions, in order to get better care. Alike can bring clarity to a treatment plan, point users in the direction of specialists, and provide support.
I really love Alike and will continue to use it for my chronic illnesses and mental health issues.