Healthcare // Patient Tools
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4/18/2014
11:05 AM
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Can Crowdsourcing Beat Dr. House?

Startup CrowdMed uses a mix of prediction market software, crowdsourcing, and gamification to help patients gain insight from hundreds of medical detectives.

best response. CrowdMed then rewards that detective. Or, to incentivize detectives to weigh in on their cases, patients can offer a cash reward to the most informative medical detective.

"Ninety percent of the cash reward goes to the medical detective who does the best job solving your case, and 10% comes to us. The average cash award on the site is $250," says Heyman. "On top of that, we have an optional expert case-review for $99. It's to help make sure you're asking the question correctly, using the right terminology, and making a good case."

CrowdMed hopes to work with insurers in the future, believing its site will help payers save money on unnecessary doctor visits, prescriptions, and tests. In the meantime, technology allows the site to run lean, according to Heyman.

"From when a patient submits a case to us, all the way to when they get the results, our site is 100% automated. Even if we only make $25, we don't have to put any marginal effort into a case."

Since CrowdMed only shares suggestions with users, it is not prescribing treatment or acting as a healthcare provider, Heyman tells us.

"We talked with a lot of attorneys when we were developing this because healthcare is a heavily regulated field. We wanted to make sure we weren't running into heavy liability. We wanted to make sure our medical detectives were protected. We are an information resource. We are simply providing diagnostic and solution suggestions to discuss with their doctors. We are an info resource like Wikipedia or WebMD."

Would you consider taking a medical condition to a crowdsourced site for advice? Would you offer health suggestions via CrowdMed? Let us know in the comments.

Download Healthcare IT in the Obamacare Era, the InformationWeek Healthcare digital issue on the impact of new laws and regulations. Modern technology created the opportunity to restructure the healthcare industry around accountable care organizations, but IT priorities are also being driven by the shift.

Alison Diana has written about technology and business for more than 20 years. She was editor, contributors, at Internet Evolution; editor-in-chief of 21st Century IT; and managing editor, sections, at CRN. She has also written for eWeek, Baseline Magazine, Redmond Channel ... View Full Bio

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Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
5/5/2014 | 3:24:40 PM
Re: Wisdom of the Crowd
Ariella, 

Yeah, let's put all the patients in the same box. They are all same. Most likely you have read some of my comments about my uncle. He was a doctor. A kind that doesn't exist any more. He used to say that illness doesn't know about times, or days of the week. For that, a doctor should always be ready to respond to a call of his patients ay day at any time, he used to say.

And that's what he did until he could. He was a pediatrician. His patients loved him so much they kept on going to see him for consultation when they were teenagers. Then, taken their own children. 

-Susan 
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
5/5/2014 | 3:09:27 PM
Re: Wisdom of the Crowd
@Susan yes, I've grown a bit cynical about the schedules set by doctors. They like to induce or to begin surgery early in the morning. I'm sure there are practical reasons on the hospital's end for this, but it does push a one-size-fits-all mold on patients who are all individuals. 
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
5/5/2014 | 2:58:16 PM
Re: Wisdom of the Crowd
Gee, Ariella! What a story. :( Being overwhelmed is no excuse. They are dealing with human lives. It's not a business where you can choose the best time that suits you to receive a baby. It seems they do, though. They like to induce early in the morning so they don't have to be called in the middle of the night, or any other inconvenient hour that some babies dare to choose, you see.

And one resident for the whole hospital?!  

"I didn't sue, but I refused to pay my doctor the full $5K she demanded b/c no one from her practice attended me for the birth." 

You were too good. Someone who abandon her patients doesn't deserve anything. 

-Susan 

 
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
4/25/2014 | 10:49:22 AM
As Dr. House would say...
> Lyme disease is frequently misdiagnosed as...Lupus


It's never Lupus.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
4/24/2014 | 5:42:53 PM
Re: Wisdom of the Crowd
To be in this position, you have to consider that most people coming to this site -- those willing to spend about $250 (because I'd imagine those are the ones who get answers much faster than the ones who don't offer a reward; it's human nature!) -- have probably been to several regular doctors, or even specialists in search of someone who can diagnose and treat them. I know, when I was in that position, I'd have loved this site. The thought of having a name for something would have been wonderful, to posit a potential solution to what ailed me would have been absolutely fantastic, especially with the doctor who told me it was imaginary (although i never returned to him anyway). The ability to potentially reach hundreds of people who have either had the same condition or research it must be extremely liberating and hope-inspiring. 

Once you have a potential diagnosis, you can find a doctor. You may not have even been seeing the right kind of doc! And from there, you may discover an entire world of treatments that allow you to live a full and active life. Of course, that may not happen but at least you've got a much better chance of connecting with someone who understands and knows about what ails you via the Internet and a specialized, crowdsourcing site than by physically traveling from practice to practice. 
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
4/24/2014 | 5:37:12 PM
Re: Wisdom of the Crowd
Some of the people in this particular crowd are medical researchers, doctors, and other healthcare professionals, @Terry. And the way the software works is to determine the "odds," if you will, that some advice is better-suited than others. The more people who recommend an approach, the likelier it is to have an element of truth to it. Or the better-suited the individuals' providing answers are, the likelier it is that their response is correct vs. someone who has no training or personal experience in that particular condition. There's a lot of science in the wisdom of the crowd software at the back of this solution. Now, whether that's going to be correct all the time, who knows! The exec told me their tests and research were very strong -- but i doubt he'd have said otherwise. I'd be really interested in seeing external, unbiased research on the company's software and crowdsourced approach.

Either way, unless the crowd recommends a wait and see attitude or something like hot tea with lemon, most of those posing questions will go to their doctors. Since the site recommends people offer a reward of about $250, I'd think those posing questions are at their wits' end with the traditional approach and have already seen several doctors in search of a diagnosis. 
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
4/24/2014 | 2:39:25 PM
Re: Wisdom of the Crowd
@TerryB true, my husband has to come up with solutions to computer problems for his job. He says he often finds answers on Google. It doesn't slow him down at all; on the contrary, he closes the most tickets on that team.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
4/24/2014 | 1:18:45 PM
Re: Wisdom of the Crowd
Seems to me this kind of tool should be used by the doctors themselves. They are in much better position to understand the varied opinions than us non medical patients. But I suspect many doctors, especially specialists, have a little bit of ego involved. The "no one can teach me anything I don't know" attitude.

I do understand that there are many medical journals published that attempt to do this. But how many doctors really have time to keep up on them? At least versus a tool they can query by symptoms and see what comes back.

Not a whole lot different than the way IT used to be. You had to keep reading manuals and hoping you became aware of publications on various new IT technologies. Now? You can Google just about anything and get an answer, even if some technology you don't have a deep understanding of. Sometimes I wonder how I ever was able to troubleshoot anything back in old days. Of course, there was a lot less technology to have to troubleshoot. ;-)
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
4/24/2014 | 11:51:26 AM
Re: Wisdom of the Crowd
@Susan the problem was that at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, they get overwhelmed and deal wuith it by adopting a haughty attitude toward their patients. All the birthing rooms were occupied when I arrived on Friday morning, and as they assumed it would be a long time yet until the birth and that they would probably just induce on Saturday morning (all doctors seem to like to induce early in the morning), they could just leave me off in a room until then. They only had caution enough not to send me home b/c the water broke at the beginning of labor. Once we got into Friday night, we were on the weekend, and ther was only a single resident there who felt stretched and exhausted. She didn't want to bother to check on me, and only came with a great huff of resignation. I didn't sue, but I refused to pay my doctor the full $5K she demanded b/c no one from her practice attended me for the birth.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
4/24/2014 | 12:51:38 AM
Re: Wisdom of the Crowd
Alison, 

I love IBM Watson. :)

-Susan
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