The healthcare industry has been amongst the more enthusiastic exponents of crowdsourcing. Last year I wrote about CrowdMed, a site that aims to crowdsource second opinions for patients unhappy with their initial diagnosis. The concept is a fascinating one. You don’t have to be medically trained to join the site, with the only criteria being a willingness to investigate cases.
As with many other crowd based services, users will be rated and given points through their use of the site, with more points given the better they perform. These points act as a sort of virtual currency that can be bet on the correct diagnosis from a list of suggestions. These bets form the basis of a prediction market, with the suggested diagnosis rising and falling in price, just like stocks on the stock exchange.
The site then uses algorithms to calculate the probability that each diagnosis is correct. Once the crowd have arrived at their consensus, the CrowdMed site shows patients the suggestions, which they are then free to explore with their doctor. If the diagnosis proves correct, the patients are encouraged to feed the results back into the site, and are rewarded accordingly.
A new Dutch-Slovak site, called Diagnose.me, aims to operate along similar lines, albeit purely in the radiology field. The site functions along a four step process to get a fresh diagnosis.
- Describe your condition in as much detail as you can, including symptoms and existing treatments
- You then choose from the panel of 50 radiologists that have been selected for the site by the Diagnose.me Medical Advisory Board
- Upload images of your condition, either from your own computer or via your existing clinician
- You then get a second opinion on your condition, usually with two days of submission
There are a few clear differences between Diagnose.me and CrowdMed. The obvious one is how you get your diagnosis. With CrowdMed anyone can review your case (for free) and the prediction market hopes to filter the wheat from the chaff. It should be said that you can order an ‘expert’ review for $50, which is pretty much the same deal as you get with Diagnose.me.
With both sites, there is an obvious caveat in that the recommendations are based purely on the information you provide. There is no opportunity for physical examinations so there should always be a slight reservation when considering the recommendations given to you. Nevertheless, initial reports seem to suggest that the diagnoses given via the sites have been pretty good, so there is a degree of optimism around the chances of both sites.
You may have read a post last month about the Radiopaedia wiki site that allows radiologists to upload images of interesting cases and get second opinions on them from fellow professionals. It’s not clear of course whether the 50 professionals signed up to Diagnose.me would think of consulting Radiopaedia before giving their feedback to the patient on Diagnose.me, but that would certainly prove an interesting twist on the model.