Medical students invent app that checks your symptoms

Craig Monsen and David Do show off Symcat

Craig Monsen and David Do show off their diagnostic tool for consumers.

Craig Monsen and David Do are fourth-year medical students at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine students. According to this article, they recently created a smartphone compatible website that uses big data, analytics, and artificial intelligence to analyze your symptoms and help determine the cause.

Using Symcat (symptoms-based, computer-assisted triage), you enter various ailments (fever, rash, cough, swelling etc.) and receive a diagnosis, prioritizing potential causes by likelihood and color-coding them by urgency. As you’ll see in the video demo below, entering and refining the symptoms and medical history is an iterative process, and the results are quite impressive. At some point, if you decide to see a doctor, the system also recommends local practitioners based on their specific specialty and experience.

The two submitted Symcat to a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Aligning Forces for Quality Developer Challenge and won the grand prize of $100,000. The competition asked tech developers to create online and mobile tools that give consumers greater access to health information. In this second video, Craig Monsen talks about their RWJF success, saying that they initially developed the tool for medical students before realizing that it could eventually help consumers too.

I think the potential of Symcat could be far greater than they realize, especially with an automated feedback loop that feeds continuous improvement with new information from medical records (EMR & PHR), monitored sensor data, personal traits and DNA information, social media (e.g. Angie’s List & Happtique), and justified supercomputer analytics of big data. IBM’s Watson, for example, can parse and analyze the equivalent of 300 million books in less than 3 seconds.