Two fourth-year Johns Hopkins School of Medicine students, Craig Monsen and David Do, have recently created a website that is smartphone compatible and helps determine disease pathology based on symptoms that you input into the system.

Called Symcat, (symptoms-based, computer-assisted triage) the app allows the user to enter in various ailments such as a fever, cough, swelling etc. and receive an instant diagnosis.

The app is currently available through their website, or can be accessed via an Android beta app. A version for the iPhone and other Apple products is said to be in the works.

Using sophisticated algorithms, Symcat ranks the most likely medical conditions and gives suggestions for treatment based on aggregate patient data and triage guidelines from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.Monsen and Do originally set out to create a user-friendly tool that would help medical students learn how to prioritize diagnoses and determine the prevalence of various conditions, since many diseases and ailments share common symptoms.

“In medical diagnosis, we are often advised, When you hear hoof beats, think horses not zebras,” Monsen says. “But as we worked on this project, we determined that patients, not medical students or doctors, could benefit the most from such an application. Patients sometimes get needlessly concerned about their symptoms, or they don’t consider that [they] could be something more serious. We wanted to come up with an easy-to-use tool to help determine what could be the cause of their symptoms so that they could act accordingly.”

The two met as first year medical students and bonded over their common backgrounds. Monsen has a background in bio-medical engineering and computer science and Do also has an educational background in bio-medical engineering.

Before working on Symcat, the duo collaborated on a software app that pulled data from electronic medical records for research purposes, as well as a web-based fitness tracking system and a student web portal now used widely in the John Hopkins School of Medicine.

The video below gives the basics of how Symcat works.

Additionally, below  is Craig Monsen excitedly discussing their recent success in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Aligning Forces Challenge. There, Symcat was the grand prize winner, receiving a $100,000 check.

The competition, created last fall, asked amateur and professional technology developers from across the United States to create easy-to-use online and mobile device–based tools that would give consumers greater access to health information. The money will allow them to refine Symcat even further.

Do explains that winning the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation competition has further inspired them.

“The award really validates what we’re doing, harnessing the power of big data and making it palatable to the average person. I think it also demonstrates to our tech-minded peers that there are alternatives to the traditional four-year medical school education.”

In the future, Monsen and Do believe that Symcat will continue to improve through the addition of more data and its user community’s ability to provide relevant feedback on the app’s diagnosis accuracy. It will also incorporate user reviews of medical providers and care cost information.

Ultimately, it appears that Monsen and Do want to create a community where patients can help others.

Source: JHU Gazette