I’ve been saying for years that I’d trust 100 patients’ diagnosis and recommendations over one doctor’s. It’s the power of the masses: a large set of less educated opinions are more likely to be informative than one educated professional. As an example, I posted a video last night called “5Ks are brutal,” and described some symptoms I’ve had with my back and leg (fast forward to 1:50 to hear how I describe my pain and tingling in one leg).
Within 10 minutes of my hitting “upload,” someone suggested it might be Sciatica (see Wikipedia entry, which itself is a collective explanation and not necessarily informed by medical professionals). As of now, there are several hundred comments, and a few others agree it could be sciatica.
I found this comment fascinating because I think bohogirl1, a total stranger, helped save me weeks of misdiagnoses- and her response arrived almost instantly. I do find my doctor to be largely informed (she’s seen here in this parody, where she was good enough to pretend to diagnose me with “video virus.” But I’ve been experiencing these symptoms for more than a month, and haven’t felt compelled to visit her… it’s time off work, a co-payment and I’m likely to get the “HMO runaround.”
Clearly this wouldn’t work if nobody was watching my videos, and it’s not very sustainable. I doubt many would subscribe to a YouTube channel of random patients complaining about inexplicable medical symptoms — much less offer free diagnosis. But I do think that online-video will power health care communities. Already we’ve seen communities form around medical conditions — especially severe ones like breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, or mental illnesses (see crazymeds.us for some collective experiences related to pharmaceutical treatments related to depression, anxiety and other neurological ailments).
Steve Case, co-founder of AOL and now Revolution Health, has indicated that as co-pays rise and consumer-directed healthplans push costs to consumers, patients are likely to become more informed and seek out other patients for efficient coping with illnesses. When I had a family member diagnosed with cancer, the second thing I did (after surfing the credible sites about cancer) was look for people that had experienced his rare type of cancer… to find out what to expect in treatment and recovery.
I struggle with exactly how video and health community will collide. I would imagine that if community forms around medical illnesses, people will want to exchange stories and advice in a more personalized way… and video is the most visceral means for this. That said, most online-video consumption is related to news, humor and sex. So this will be long-tail stuff. Yet certainly more profound.