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Patients without a diagnosis turn to crowdsourcing

Patients in New Mexico, as elsewhere, go to a doctor to find out what is wrong with them. When a diagnosis is not forthcoming, some patients continue to search for an answer. One online site takes a different approach using crowdsourcing techniques.

The founder, a man inspired by his sister's ordeal, developed an online site that outsources patient diagnostics to a group of medical detectives. It allows patients to upload their medical information so the site's medical detectives may arrive at a working diagnosis.

The detectives are comprised of retired physicians and medical students from universities such as George Washington and Stanford's School of Medicine. Others include Trinity College in Dublin and Northeast Ohio Medical University.

The site specializes in orphan diseases, defined as those with less than 200,000 cases, and assists individuals who have seen multiple physicians. After reviewing the case, medical detectives post their diagnosis and, if they are correct, share in the amount the patient is willing to pay. The medical detectives bet on the likelihood of the diagnosis, and an algorithm provides a probability score. Users are instructed to take the results to their physician. The site has been operative since last year and has worked on 350 cases. On average, users reported they had been ill for six years, incurred $55,000 in medical expenses and had seen eight doctors.

Failure to diagnose a patient's illness may cause harm because patients are unable to receive proper treatment. Continued illness may cause them to miss work and incur additional medical expenses. Further, their condition may worsen, and delayed diagnosis may affect the outcome. An attorney may be able to help an individual in this situation file a malpractice claim against their physician to recover their loss.

Source: Medical Daily, "Crowdsource Your Medical Diagnosis? CrowdMed Bets On Long-Sick Patients Desperate For Help", Susan Scutti , July 01, 2014

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