CrowdMed, an online program that allows patients to submit their cases to case solvers in efforts to obtain a possible diagnosis, proved helpful for some patients with undiagnosed illnesses, a new study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research showed. 

CrowdMed is a recently developed online platform that allows interactive discussions between patients who submit their cases and case solvers who attempt to solve the diagnostic mysteries. After discussion and an exchange of diagnostic details, patients receive comprehensive reports containing diagnostic suggestions to discuss with their physicians. 

Study authors from Houston Veterans Affairs Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety, analyzed case data between May 2013-April 2015 to assess patient and case solver characteristics as well as case outcomes.

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A total of 397 cases were completed during the study period. The patients reported previously visiting a median of 5 physicians, spending $10,000 in medical expenses, spending 50 hours researching their illnesses online, and being symptomatic for 2.6 years. About 58% of the 357 active case solvers during that period either worked or studied in the medical field. 

Nearly 60% (233/391) of patients reported that the process provided insight to steer them closer to the correct diagnoses and 50.9% (202/397) were likely to recommend CrowdMed to a friend. Moreover, 57% saw reductions in medical expenses, and 38% saw improvement in school or work productivity. 

Though some patients with difficult-to-diagnose illnesses obtained helpful information, more development and “use of crowdsourcing methods to facilitate diagnosis requires long-term evaluation as well as validation to account for patients’ ultimate correct diagnoses,” corresponding study author Hardeep Singh, MD, MPH, noted. 

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