CrowdMed uses crowdsourcing to diagnose medical problems

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A new website uses the power of crowdsourcing to let "medical detectives" diagnose your problem.

If you have a medical problem that's rare, or hard to diagnose, it can cost you thousands of dollars going from doctor to doctor to find the solution.

Like crowdfunding sites GoFundMe and IndieGogo, where many people donate money to fund a new company or project, CrowdMed uses crowdsourcing.

On CrowdMed.com, patients, using a pseudonym, anonymously post their symptoms for rare, hard to diagnose problems, such as gradual blindness, unremitting headaches, and chronic pain. Then the site's "medical detectives" suggest diagnoses. 

"We ask about things like your symptoms, your medical history, family medical history, demographics," explains founder Jared Heyman.

Heyman says CrowdMed has saved patients money, time, and even their lives.

"Our average patient has been sick for six years," he said. "They've already seen eight doctors and they've already incurred over $50,000 in medical expenses on these cases."

A patient's case is posted for 30 days. They might get 30 replies. So CrowdMed uses a system to determine the most likely diagnosis.

"We use a point vetting mechanism to try to find the consensus opinion of the medical community," said Heyman.

Then patients can print it out and take it to their doctors. You can post your case for free, with a $50 refundable deposit. But offering a reward, usually $200 for the correct diagnosis, gets more responses.

Heyman says it works more than 50 percent of the time.

"Patients have said you've saved my life or improved the quality of my life dramatically," he said, "and it's heartwarming to hear those stories."

The CrowdMed website says not all their medical detectives are medical professionals. Sometimes they are other patients who know the disease, or perhaps researchers and they haven't seen the patients in person. So, doctors recommend that patients discuss the suggested diagnoses with their physicians.

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