Would you trust a website for a diagnosis? Patient “Hope” recently did and her experience was featured in ReplyAll, a popular podcast that focuses on Internet culture and tech stories. She utilized a variety of sources, after frustrations with her physician(s), and finally ended up using CrowdMed.
CrowdMed is, as its name clearly notes, a crowd-sourced medical diagnosis website. Patients set up an account, post their symptoms, and get feedback from “Medical Detectives” or MDs (just about anyone, ranging from medical students to nurses to physicians and just interested individuals). While the exact number of Medical Detectives is difficult to ascertain, they frequently have a reported medical background (64%), and are primarily from the United States (61%, with over 21 countries represented in total). CrowdMed has received considerable positive media attention, including in PBS, The Economist, and PopSci, with little coverage in traditional medical publications.
It’s been well recognized that patients are increasingly turning to health apps and websites for medical information. When it comes to finding a diagnosis, there are growing numbers of increasingly sophisticated symptom checkers. However, one recent study highlighted the poor accuracy of the most popular symptom checkers out there. HealthTap offers patients an opportunity to pose questions that are answered by verified healthcare professionals and has become a very popular resource. Finally, while most telemedicine services are aimed at more run of the mill health problems, some major centers are beginning to offer specialist & second opinion visits.
The kind of crowd-sourced medical diagnosis that CrowdMed offers is a very controversial approach to medicine and it’s one we have discussed here at iMedicalApps when they were just starting. ReplyAll also looks at some of the dangers of crowd-sourced medicine (misdiagnosis leading to serious injury, harm from unnecessary or dangerous treatments to name a few), and highlights it with an interview with Dr. Lisa Sanders, the physician behind House. She raises several interesting points regarding CrowdMed and adds further concerns to the medical case presented.
The podcast episode, titled “The Blind Spot” is a fascinating look into one person’s struggle with a puzzling medical condition, and her quest for an answer. Whatever your feelings about the topic, as a physician, it is a good learning experience to hear about the struggles a patient may face with such a dilemma, from their own perspective.
You can check out the podcast at Gimlet. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the rise of Internet medicine – share them in the comments below. To see more about how CrowdMed works, check out their video below: