Making really hard decisions where each decision has its downsides is a part of every medical professional’s job. I felt awful when I was in that situation and would have loved to ask a few more experts but could not simply because I had no access to them. With social media and other digital technologies, being connected to other experts has become a commodity of healthcare, but only if caregivers know how to use the tools.
A recent study perfectly underscores this notion. Authors applied collective intelligence (CI) to mammography screenings. They found that:
CI can be employed to improve mammography screening; similarly, CI may have the potential to improve medical decision-making in a much wider range of contexts, including many areas of diagnostic imaging and, more generally, diagnostic decisions that are based on the subjective interpretation of evidence.
Obviously, a group of experts can make a better decision than a physician alone. Why not using this amazing opportunity to improve healthcare? The only thing needed for this is helping medical professionals embrace these methods and learn the tricks. It is possible.
Roni Zeiger, ex-leader of Google Health, and Gilles Friedman, founder of ACOR, teamed up to create Smart Patients and giving a chance to cancer patients to take matters into their own hands.
Smart Patients is an online community where cancer patients and caregivers learn from each other about treatments, clinical trials, the latest science, and how it all fits into the context of their experience.
I recently blogged about László Rosta, PhD who published a video in which he tries to find an explanation for the disease of a young boy by offering the video for crowdsourcing. He sent me these particular questions:
- Does anybody have any experience with such a low-dose combinatorial drug therapy in sarcomas?
- What do they think about the proposed drugs – any antagonism in the combination?
- How could we get rid of the pulmonary metastases through a minimally invasive method (e.g. RF or MW ablation, HIFU, hyperthermia etc.)?
- Where and who would treat my son according to these principles?
- How could we get a single-patient trial approval for such a therapy?
László Rosta, PhD published a video in which he tries to find an explanation for the disease of a young boy by offering the video for crowdsourcing. He sent me this particular question:
Do you have any therapeutic ideas which might be curative for inoperable osteosarcoma of the pelvis with pulmonary metastases? Radiotherapy (72 Gy) and chemotherapy (EURAMOS-1 protocol) did not help.
I see more and more attempts at crowdsourcing which is not surprising as the increased use of social media platforms opened the way for communicating with like-minded people worldwide in no time. If you can share the video with oncologists you know, please do so.
There are more and more ways for crowdsourcing clinical questions, and the newest addition to the family of web tools and services is Figure 1, a photo sharing site for healthcare professionals. Registered physicians can share images, learn from others and bookmark useful cases.
I’m not sure this is what the medical community requires right now, but I’m always curious about further developments.
According to the co-founder, Joshua Landy, MD:
“I developed Figure 1 because I wanted a safe way to share medical images with the medical community, while protecting patients’ privacy.”
Hugo Campos is well known in the health 2.0/e-patient communities and now he made another step forward in changing healthcare. Even though I teach medical students not to give medical advice online, this little story should give us a glimpse about the near future of healthcare. He posted his ECG results (with AliveCor) on Twitter asking the opinion of cardiologists.
Earlier tonight, at around 7:25 pm, I noticed a fluttering sensation in my chest. My first thought was atrial fibrillation (AF). I’ve had quite a few runs of AF, so I’m familiar with its symptoms. I immediately grabbed my iPhone ECG recorder, licked the electrodes (I know, gross, but I wanted a sharp recording), lifted my shirt and placed the device against my chest hoping for a clean recording. Until now, I hadn’t been fast enough to catch an arrhythmia in action. But this time, I caught the tail end of the episode. I tweeted the experience.
Prognosis, which I covered before, just came up with a new application that aims at assisting medical professionals in crowdsourcing clinical problems. It differs pretty much from HealthTap as patients are not involved with this and the community is international.
The app links you to a community of medical professionals who help out each other by answering questions and clarifying doubts via their hard earned experience and academic excellence.
In order to provide a conducive, respectful platform to share questions and clarify doubts, all users are obliged to adhere to a code of conduct and thus be courteous.