Crowdsourcing could solve medical dilemmas

A US website is using people power to help diagnose medical conditions

A new web platform in the US is using people power to solve medical mysteries and cases of misdiagnosis. allows people to upload the symptoms of their illness to the website for $199 and receive suggestions from an online community of what the illness could be.  The site aggregates suggestions from its community – which includes the general public and some medical experts, and then compiles a report of the top three suggestions for the person to take to their doctor for discussion.

Jared Heyman, the founder, believes the site is particularly useful for those who undergo routine tests to identify rare illnesses but whose results come back inconclusive. He said a number of people using the site so far have gained insight into conditions they had been suffering from for a number of years.

Heyman has limited the service to the US for the moment, as global input can introduce geographic variances and cause confusion, he believes.

Some commentators believe that such a site can save the public time, and in the US, the cost of spending years seeing different doctors and trying to work out what is wrong.

However, some in the medical industry have added a note of caution. Speaking on Canadian radio station CBC, Dr Susan Shaw, a critical care specialist in Saskatoon, said: “There’s a lot of false hopes that are sold, a lot of them over the internet, and I would worry about the influence that could have on a patient who’s obviously desperate for an answer.”