A few years ago when Jared Heyman’s sister fell ill, the medical system was unable to find a quick answer. She saw over 2 dozen doctors. She paid over 100,000 in medical bills. She suffered through her symptoms for 3 years. And then after being connected with the NIH’s Undiagnosed Diseases Program, she was finally diagnosed and underwent a speedy recovery with this new information. Jared was unsatisfied with the way the system worked and knew from his work in marketing and prediction markets that sometimes the best and fastest answers come from crowds. He wondered if the same tactics used in his marketing research companies could be applied to solve medical mysteries.
He put his sisters case to the test. After 3 days, the answer that took many physicians years to get to was answered by a group of volunteers harnessing their wisdom together. The project has become a company called ‘CrowdMed’ which allows for even those without medical degrees to participate in solving medical cases. Potential ‘Medical Dectectives’ sign up to get involved and if admitted to participate they get a chance to select cases they are interested or knowledgeable about to try and solve. After choosing a case they suggest potential diagnoses and rank their lists. For being correct, members of the crowd can earn points that may be translated to earning awards or making money to donate to a charity.
CrowdMed has raised funding and is part of the Y-Combinator program. They officially launched at TEDMED 2013. Get involved by going to their website and becoming a medical detective!