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Website Helps Patients Solve Medical Mysteries

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - At one time or another most people have turned to Google to self-diagnose an illness or injury. A new website is taking that idea even further with teams of strangers working together to diagnose people they have never met before.

Only a few years ago dancing, art and music came easy to Diana Cleaveland. Now, the 51-year-old mom struggles to sit up.

"It's really, really horrific," said Cleaveland.

Cleaveland has been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and suffers from excruciating pain in her neck and back. EDS is a complicated genetic condition that weakens connective tissue which leaves the sufferer in constant pain. But Cleaveland was convinced that there was something else wrong.

"I've been diagnosed with contradictory things depending on which doctor you talk to," said Cleaveland.

Desperate for answers, she posted her case on the new website

"We've had some pretty dramatic success stories. In some cases we've solved a case in just a few weeks that had stumped doctors for years," said Jared Heyman, the founder and CEO of CrowdMed.

Anyone can submit a medical mystery on CrowdMed and anyone can sign up to be a medical detective. Those detectives then collaborate on the best possible diagnosis.

"It's much more efficient and much more cost effective than having a patient bounce from specialist to specialist which is typically how it's done in the traditional medical system," said Heyman.

Patients can even offer rewards to the detectives who get it right.

But not everyone is on board with amateur sleuth approach.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center's Dr. Bradley Crotty urges caution before logging on. He recommends talking to your doctor before posting your case online.

"You could get some scary information. You could get some useful information," said Dr. Crotty. "I would be really skeptical that it would get you an answer that was correct quicker."

The detectives on Cleaveland's case mostly confirmed the Ehlers-Danlos diagnosis and also gave her at least one more condition to investigate with the help of her doctor. Cleaveland remains determined to find as many answers about her own health as possible, in case her daughter goes down the same road.

"I told her, I said you know something might happen to me if it does I want to have a path for you and as many answers as I can possibly provide for you," said Cleaveland.

According to CrowdMed's website they said they have solved nearly eight million dollars worth of challenging medical cases. That figure, they said, is based on estimated or actual costs paid into the traditional medical system for all cases solved to date or currently under investigation on the CrowdMed site.


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