Crowdsourcing, representing various Internet users to achieve a defined goal, is a hallmark of the digital generation. Wikipedia currently hosts more over 48 million articles in 302 languages. Ridesharing applications allow mobile crowdsourcing of transport services. These examples – which started out as seemingly outlandish ideas, but are now common and used daily by millions of people around the world – demonstrate the ability of crowdsourcing to improve or improve processes in our daily lives.
Crowdsourcing also extends to healthcare. There are medical applications for crowdsourcing that draw on a large pool of skilled people, including diagnostics and clinical trials.
Medical crowdsourcing can provide collaborative and insightful information with the ability to deliver and deliver more impactful patient care. A recent documentary series tells how it can be used to successfully diagnose seemingly impossible medical cases. For example, a patient’s case was described in an online medical column, where readers around the world provided their input with differential diagnoses supporting the variety of tests (image, sample, etc.) undergone by the patient. This led to a more plausible and efficient diagnosis for the patient. It also opened up the opportunity to provide the patient with more innovative treatment possibilities, clinical trial options, while educating a supporting medical community.
There are other examples. One in line platform of 600,000 approved doctors is also used to aid in diagnosis and found urgent solutions for pediatric patients. A group of 46 doctors from around the world helped solve the case of a Canadian girl who introduced herself with E. coli-As symptoms within hours of posting. A doctor in the United States was diagnosed with plastic bronchitis for hypoplasia of the left heart within a few hours for posting a photo of an unknown mass that her 14-year-old patient had coughed. The prompt diagnosis led to successful heart surgery for the patient.
Crowdsourcing mediated by patients may also aid clinical trials by determining the safety and effectiveness of a potential treatment. One in line network of nearly 1 million patients, caregivers and researchers, implicated in 2,900 different medical conditions, has demonstrated its usefulness in clinical discovery. Two patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) neurodegenerative disease used this platform to recruit 149 ALS patients to take lithium and report its impact on their disease progression and mitigation. symptoms. The results, available after just eight months, revealed that lithium had no impact on ALS. These results correspond to subsequent randomized clinical trials and were statistically corroborated in a study published in 2011. The speed, low cost of the study, patient diversity and strong patient engagement were hailed as the main advantages of a participatory approach over traditional clinical trials.
The goal of clinical trials is to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of a drug to gain market authorization, but poor study design can hamper this process. Health professionals and scientific researchers currently write and perform most of the protocols for testing the drug. Therefore, traditional clinical trials are often complex, expensive, and enrolling far fewer patients than expected.
Doctors believe crowdsourcing can address the traditional concerns of clinical trials. With the current limited availability of funding, it is imperative to find other sources of funding and enable clinical trials to be carried out at a lower cost. Those most involved in clinical trials – patients, doctors and nurses, and lawyers – have the ability to identify the limitations and benefits of certain elements, suggesting that these actors could contribute to a first draft of the protocol.
Focusing on the patient also aligns with the current perspective of FDA clinical trials. The 21st Century Cures Act 2016 and Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act 2017 encouraged the incorporation of patient experience data to be included in all new drug submissions. The idea that the elements included in clinical studies would ideally reflect what patients have identified as being most important to them for a specific disease.
Online platforms have been developed at several stages of the clinical trial process, including patients recruitment using patient advocates’ social media and running clinical trials by enabling direct registration for clinical trials in line. Protocol development is also optimized through the use of new technologies designed to garner contributions from the global community. Surveys with protocol questions are posted online for review by the target crowd, including physicians, patients and researchers. These surveys may contain a series of questions relating to key aspects of the study and a description of the protocol is then provided. Topics range from the rationale for the study to the appropriate dosage and each target group is given questions that relate to them. Answers to multiple choice questions are measured quantitatively while qualitative text analysis identifies trends in free text responses. The responses are then used to complete online clinical trials or revise clinical trial protocols. The first works have proved beneficial in many cases: thanks to this method, clinical trials in psychology produces low-cost, high-quality data while 60 doctors and 40 patients crowdsourcing of major modifications to a cancer clinical trial protocol.
In addition to encouraging critical thinking, this form of crowdsourcing also enables the discovery and incorporation of innovative ideas. For example, telemedicine-based patient reviews dramatically reduced costs in a clinical trial protocol designed to test lisinopril, an FDA-approved hypertension drug, as a treatment for multiple sclerosis. The approval of this trial in 2012 marked the first time the FDA has approved a crowdsourced-developed clinical trial protocol.
The benefits of these methods increase the likelihood of successful clinical trials. Involving patients and physicians in the protocol increases future patient recruitment and retention through early exposure to the study and establishment of parameters that impact the target community. Fewer amendments are often needed for the protocol since the main concerns have already been addressed before submission. Faster recruitment and fewer protocol changes reduce the cost and duration of clinical trials.
Overall, medical crowdsourcing enables effective collaboration on everything from diagnostics to clinical trials. Using powerful online tools or patient networks are just two of the ways the creativity of the crowd can be used.
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