Editor’s Note: Mark Ryan, M.D., is a member of the External Advisory Board for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.
About a month ago, I received a request from one of my practice partners. They are working with a patient with a number of chronic, hard-to-treat medical illnesses that may or may not be part of a single syndrome or underlying problem. Despite the fact that this physician is an excellent clinician, they have struggled to put the pieces together and are worried that they are missing something.
The e-mail they sent me reads "i have a patient with an odd constellation of chronic medical problems...it seems to me something might tie these together...i mentioned to the patient the crowdsourcing idea on twitter and he was open to trying this"
I have spoken with this physician, but I have not spoken personally with the patient yet. I have not taken any steps to crowdsource this patient's illness because I am honestly not sure how best to do it...or even if itshould be done.
So: I would like to crowdsource the ethics of crowdsourcing. I am hoping to hear from other physicians, but especially from patients and patient advocates who have faced challenging illnesses and diagnoses.
I think that there could be great value in using social media as the world's largest "curbside consult" in which we ask peers to provide suggestions and insight but the primary physician retains sole responsibility to determine treatment plans with their patient. In essence, the crowdsourcing would be like an enormous brainstorming session to help come up with ideas that the primary physician might have overlooked or failed to consider.
Please send me your thoughts--feel free to comment below. This feels like an awfully large step, and one that I do not want to take into thin air.