Healthcare crowdsourcing startup wants to reward patient insights

CreateHealth.io is developing a patient-driven platform to solve medical challenges faced by healthcare and life science industry companies as well as by patients. The move could change how we think of crowdsourcing in healthcare. The twist comes from the fact that not only will life science companies use it to seek patient insights, but patients […]

CreateHealth.io is developing a patient-driven platform to solve medical challenges faced by healthcare and life science industry companies as well as by patients. The move could change how we think of crowdsourcing in healthcare. The twist comes from the fact that not only will life science companies use it to seek patient insights, but patients will also submit their own healthcare challenges.

Here’s how it works. Healthcare and life sciences companies sponsor campaigns, but community groups, startups and not-for-profit associations can submit applications to use the platform for free. Life science and healthcare companies will offer financial rewards for what they consider to be the best ideas submitted by patients. The best ideas for patient challenges will be showcased on CreateHealth.io’s website.

The health IT startup, which has offices in New York and London,  views the platform as a way for healthcare companies to test and validate healthcare products and services with their customers. But it’s also a twist on focus groups, based on the type of feedback it expects life science companies to generate. CreateHealth.io Partnership Director Theo Fellgett said the company has built partnerships with patient groups in therapeutic areas such as Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, diabetes and cancer treatment.

Fellgett told MedCity News that CreateHealth.io hopes the platform will offer the life science industry a way to have a more open dialogue with patients without the risk of violating U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations.

“One of the biggest drivers for people to participate in clinical trials is to improve science,” said Fellgett. By emphasizing transparency, it hopes to create a social network of healthcare ‘microexperts’ who can solve healthcare challenges for life science companies.

In its first sponsored project, AbbVie ran an open digital forum that sought insights about the quality of life for patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Not surprisingly for a company focused on patient-centered ideas, transparency is a big priority. Fellgett noted that no data from the platform is covertly sold and users know to which companies or third parties they are providing their insight.

Currently pharmaceutical companies tend to gather insights about their products from social media channels such as Twitter and public conversation threads. Big pharma companies such as Sanofi, Janssen Labs and Merck have used crowdsourcing to enlist entrepreneurs to solve healthcare challenges. Nonprofits such as Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and American Heart Association have also tried this approach. It tends to be viewed as a useful way to tap startups for novel ways to, if not solve problems, then at least try to minimize problems such as adherence for chronic conditions or reducing readmissions. In the case of the tricorder challenge, Qualcomm sought a futuristic vision of personalized diagnostics.

Other variations on crowdsourcing include open innovation platform InnoCentive and Transparency Life Sciences.

It will be interesting to see how well this company’s approach works in action and whether its emphasis on patients’ points of view and transparency will attract the meaningful exchange of insights and product development ideas it’s seeking.

 

[Photo credit: Crowd of hands from BigStock Photos]