One my way out of CBS, there was an ongoing debate over the quality and usefulness of user-generated content versus content created by experts. As newspapers continue to close shop under the deafening noise of the Blogosphere, the consumer choice has been clear. I suppose the case could be made that people stopped caring about quality journalism right after the media companies stop producing quality journalism. Strange to see this sort of idea come to health care. Would the public at large rather get an initial diagnosis from their peers or trained medical experts?
Meddik, a small startup out of New York, is betting that searching against a crowd sourced knowledge-base of peer shared health stories, symptoms and diagnosis will guide you to the best health information. As Meddik’s co-founder, Tim Soo, notes, “there are a few companies who focus on bringing health to the average consumer”. In fact there are already well known companies which provide very large online health resources which patients can search against, such as WebMD, PatientsLikeMe, Healthline and Alliance Health. The problem Soo says, is that these sites have higher barriers to entry. Users typically have to create extensive profiles, and even then, some sites target only patients with more chronic illnesses.
Meddik’s inception, much like our very own Axial Exchange, was borne out of frustrating personal experiences of their founders with the inadequacies of the current healthcare system. Judging by the overwhelmingly positive responses these startups have received and the interest by the consumers of healthcare at large, this frustration is quite widespread. Like any hidden hegemony, our healthcare system’s inefficiencies are largely ignored, until we absolutely must use it. And ignored is the operative word here, because whether you are insured or uninsured, entering our healthcare system is not perceived as a service, but a sentence.
The solution to many of our healthcare problems, and by extension the future of healthcare, is to get timely, accurate and easy to understand health information into the hands of patients. Products like Axial Patient will begin this educational and information sharing process in the hospital to a captive audience of patients who have a genuine interest in getting well. A new generation of companies will change healthcare for consumers--stay tuned.