Internet technology has touched all our lives. Though not all changes are viewed positively, in the area of dissemination of health information, the internet has been without a doubt – revolutionary.
Take for example the San Francisco start-up company CrowdMed launched in the Spring of 2013. Four years in the development and planning stages, this internet site attempts to link individuals with medical conditions that defy clear diagnosis with the opinions of clinicians and non-clinicians throughout the world. In other words, it attempts to employ ‘the wisdom of crowds’ to solve the most difficult medical cases that exist or simply provide a second opinion.
The more common or basic medical ailments can usually be quickly diagnosed and treated by most practitioners. But there are individuals who experience concurrent conditions, rare illnesses, or ailments that are rare to a specific locale and therefore defy easy diagnosis. These and other type of situations can make it very difficult establishing the correct diagnosis and proper treatment. This is especially the case in geographically remote areas where only the most basic medical services are available.
It is has been reported that approximately 8 percent of the world’s population, or a total of 350 million people, experience one of 7,000 rare or very difficult to diagnose conditions. Furthermore, many new conditions are discovered yearly, making it very difficult for most busy clinicians to keep up.
The way CrowdMed works is you first register on line as either a patient or a medical detective (MD). As a patient, information related to symptoms, health history, family health history, medications, lifestyle is posted by opening a case with a $50 refundable payment. In addition, diagnostic laboratory results and imaging findings can be downloaded. Also the patient can be asked further questions or you can discuss the case with other participants. The patient also indicates if and how much they are offering as a cash reward for the best diagnosis. This is decided by the patient or their physician ninety days after the posting or when 50 MDs have provided input, whichever is first. Rewards are distributed to the Medical Detectives based on their point scores for the case.
Medical detectives are enticed to register, as they may view providing feedback, a fun exercise or intellectually challenging. There is also the prospect of entering a competition or a betting contest with the reward being either cash or earned points that leads to a charitable donation on behalf of the most astute MDs. The charitable contribution apparently comes from 10% of the award proceeds retained by CrowdMed.
To date, CrowdMed has raised over $2.3 million in venture capital and claims to has saved an estimated $7.8 million in traditional medical expenses in solved and pending cases. The Medical Detectives of CrowdMed have in the short time since launch, have relieved immeasurable suffering for those patients who have participated and may even have saved some lives.
- Private beta phase testing with real patients proved to be “stunningly accurate”
- Utilizes patented diagnoses prediction market technology
- Accurately lists the most probable diagnoses
- Provides second opinions easily
- Potential for curtailing unnecessary diagnostic procedures and treatments
- Doesn’t require the hassle of another clinician visit
- Saves time and money in seeing a clinician.
- Leads to proper treatment sooner
- Eliminates individual clinician’s bias, lack of knowledge or experience.
- Addresses privacy concerns.
- Site is not yet widely known
- Buy in by clinicians still remains
- False hope for desperate patients
Jacob J. Klausner