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Four Ways Crowdsourcing Drives Healthcare Innovation


At WEGO Health, we see healthcare innovation happening every day. Our Chief Strategy Officer, David Goldsmith, recently wrote a piece for Forbes highlighting some of the specific ways that crowdsourcing drives healthcare innovation.

Crowdsourcing has been around in one way or another for quite some time but advances in technology have made it a much more robust and valuable phenomenon. WEGO Health uses crowdsourcing to help connect life sciences companies with the wealth of human capital available. Our network of 125K+ patient thought leaders and experts has the first-hand experiential knowledge and the real-world perspective that pharma companies and other organizations need.

Citing specific examples for each one, David shared four pivotal ways that crowdsourcing is driving innovation in healthcare. First, crowdsourcing is making a big impact on medical research and discovery. A project where WEGO Health customer Pfizer teamed up with 23andme led to the identification of 15 genetic mutations linked to depression. This kind of research can be painfully slow otherwise, just because of the huge obstacle of getting enough data points to be meaningful. “When faced with a numbers problem,” David writes, “crowdsourcing may be researchers’ best hope for speeding up scientific discovery.”

Another way crowdsourcing is helping drive healthcare innovation is in raising capital to start new ventures. David referenced Ixcela, a startup working on solutions to the problem of poor gut health. After developing a method for testing gut health imbalances and coming up with a way to successfully treat this problem, they turned to equity crowdfunding and had a successful launch.

The third pillar David points out is crowdsourcing’s unique ability to inspire entrepreneurial thinking. An innovation challenge from Accenture was referenced as an example.

And finally, David says crowdsourcing drives healthcare innovation is by helping to identify which unmet medical need is most important. All medical needs are important, to be clear, but funding and time are both limited. To this end, the American Heart Association came up with a unique way to focus priorities in researching cardiovascular medicine. Offering prize money, the AHA tapped into the wisdom of patients, caregivers, clinicians, and researchers in pursuit of the “most innovative, scientifically rigorous and patient-centered ideas.”

Can crowdsourcing solve every problem in healthcare? Maybe not, but there are numerous examples of the good it can do to drive innovation. Check out David’s Forbes Article for a closer look at how crowdsourcing is already making a significant difference.

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