SERMOsolves: Online Medical Crowdsourcing

iConsult, iConsult app, digital health

iConsult is a dynamic physician resource allowing doctors from around the US to share insights with each other on challenging cases.  It is expanding the way physicians diagnose and treat patients.  This new type of clinical collaboration is called medical crowdsourcing and it’s really taking off.

Physicians who are members of SERMO (free for all physicians with verification) can simply go to the “patient cases” feature on the iPhone app and upload key case information anonymously.  The typical physicians will give a brief history, stats, any lab results, and often include pictures or X-rays if relevant.

From there the responses come in.  Most patient cases have a first response within three minutes.   Posts can easily have more than 50 comments as physicians from various disciplines discuss patient diagnosis and care.

Since the app was first introduced physicians within SERMO have noted faster diagnoses, a decrease in unnecessary lab work and an increase in positive, speedy patient outcomes and recovery times.

So yes, lower costs and better patient care, something we’re all striving to achieve.

Medical Crowdsourcing:  Floating Doctors / Panama

A 33-year old Ngabe woman (indigenous group living in remote rural communities in Western Panama), presented with a black “cloud” over her eye which had been worsening for three years.  The internal medicine doctor provided a picture of the eye and all the pertinent information.

Physicians from six different disciplines discussed the case online including nine separate ophthalmologists weighing in with their opinions.  Floating Doctors was able to go back to the patient and check a few more details and pinpoint a diagnosis and treatment.

In the words of Benjamin LaBrot, founder of Floating Doctors, “We were able to post this last night, and this morning I sat the patient down in front of the computer, showed her how many doctors posted about her case (she cannot read), and told her that we think we have a diagnosis, and that–good news–if this is correct and there are no other problems with the eye, then a surgery will probably be curative.

She was pretty pleased (as you can imagine; think of having that for so long and having no answers and no option for help or treatment) and wanted to know when we could arrange the surgery. So, we are on it–so awesome, so powerful. I am giddy with this new capability!”

Medical Crowdsourcing Has Many Applications

The app is not just for rural or remote parts of the planet.  Our physicians use it regularly throughout the US to collaborate.  Our doctors estimate that as much as 40 percent of cases fall into a “grey area” where more than one possibility for diagnosis exists;  by reaching out to peers, doctors have the opportunity to narrow down their choices or determine what best next steps.

The SERMO app is free and available to all physicians who are members of SERMO. 

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