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.

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