'Medical detectives' are helping people diagnose tricky conditions online.

When one mom took to a medical platform called CrowdMed, her son Joseph was in desperate need of help.

"My son feels like an old man," she wrote. "He suffers from constant, debilitating fatigue, painful body aches ... he feels like he's dying."

After submitting his case to the site, more than 40 "medical detectives" — medical experts from around the world — took it on. They came to the consensus that he most likely had Lyme disease, even though that had previously been ruled out by his physicians following negative test results.


The medical detectives had noticed that the tests he had taken were old and known to be inaccurate now with advanced technology. They recommended he take a new test, which confirmed that Lyme disease was the correct diagnosis. He's now on the appropriate treatment plan and feeling way better.

The internet is a wild place like that.

Who would have thought the same tools we use to look at pictures of cute kittens could also help us solve mysterious medical cases?

The internet and social media have not only changed the way friends communicate with each other, but have changed the way doctors and patients communicate, too.

Like other professionals, doctors benefit from sharing insight and expertise with other doctors. But only so much can be learned from attending a conference or reading a medical journal. That's where crowdsourcing medical info has come into play.

Here are five ways doctors (and everyday folks) are using the internet to change the medical world as we know it:

1. Medical detectives are solving difficult medical mysteries on CrowdMed.

Image via CrowdMed.

There are thousands and thousands (and thousands) of medical conditions out there. The odds of one doctor knowing all of them? Well, that'd be ridiculous! And that's exactly why CrowdMed came into existence.

As in the example above, CrowdMed uses crowdsourcing to help solve unique medical cases online. We're not talking your common cold here. We're talking difficult medical conditions that could normally take several years, and a lot of money, to diagnose. With the help of their medical experts, or "detectives," patients are given access to a wide variety of medical expertise in one online platform.

2. No Instagram filter is needed with these photos, but a medical degree can help.


From the emergency room, here's our selected case for #Medstudent Monday. What test should you order urgently for this patient?
A video posted by Figure 1 (@figure1) on



While many people take joy in scrolling through photos of puppies and fancy-looking dinners on Instagram, people in the medical community are actively following photos of medical cases to compare notes. With more than 54,000 followers, the account Figure 1 is perfect for health professionals to view and discuss a variety of medical issues ranging from surgeries to X-rays to burn wounds.

"If I’m able to log on to Instagram or Figure 1 and see a picture of something that I learned about three years ago in medical school that I may see in the future, that’s really helpful for my learning going forward," emergency medicine resident John Corker told Marketplace.


We've selected our case of the week. This device can restore a patient's vision when all other methods fail. Do you know what it is?
A photo posted by Figure 1 (@figure1) on

3. Doctors are using an instant messenger to get their answers super fast.

A "living, breathing, evolving medical knowledge bank," SERMO has become a go-to social network for doctors around the world. Its community of 600,000 members are all verified and credentialed physicians who use the space to brainstorm, ask questions, collaborate, and exchange knowledge and experiences with each other.

And what makes it stand out is that community members can remain anonymous on the network once they've been verified. It creates a safe space for doctors to open up and ask questions they may otherwise avoid asking in a public setting or in their own practice.

"When physicians feel comfortable dialoguing without repercussions, they ask for help, they share knowledge, they admit mistakes — and together advance the universe of medical knowledge," the website reads. Makes sense.

4. What if a doctor needs a second opinion? There are Facebook groups for that.

Image via Facebook.

When Dr. Brian Jacob wanted to stay in touch and share knowledge with other surgeons around the world, he went straight to Facebook. Jacob created a closed group called International Hernia Collaboration and invited some of his surgeon friends to join.

"What began as a few of us collaborating privately about tough cases quickly spread to hundreds of vetted surgeons and industry members from over 40 countries providing each other continuous quality improvement one Facebook post and comment at a time," he wrote in Facebook Stories.

The group, which now has over 2,100 members, has seen successful outcomes thanks to their teamwork. Woo, collaboration! For example, Jacob said in his story:

"One day last year, a patient came to me insisting that he have his hernia fixed as soon as possible. Given his medical history, I suspected it would be best to wait and not operate right away. With the patient’s permission, I decided to reach out to the group for other perspectives. I posted an x-ray image of his hernia and the key information regarding his case, along with my two points: 1) When is it too soon to repair a newly formed hernia? and 2) What technique and product would you use?

Within minutes, other surgeons chimed in with comments, and I felt comforted in teaching hundreds of surgeons across the globe that there was consensus in this decision to postpone the surgery. With the support of the group, I waited a few months before operating, and saved the patient potential injury to his intestines that could occur by operating too soon. I've tracked his progress and, almost a year later, he is still doing very well."

5. Or for the minimal effort approach, let the information come directly to you.

With sites like PediHeartNet, users are able to sign up to be informed on the latest news within their expertise. For instance, PediHeartNet's listserv allows medical professionals to sign up to receive postings of worldwide discussions to their inbox on various aspects of pediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery. That's both important and convenient.

When it comes down to it, the more quality information we have about our health, the better off we all are.

It's great to see medical professionals and everyday people work together to find ways to share their medical knowledge and experiences for the benefit of human good.

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Truth

Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign. We don't do PSAs. We also need to update so to explain truth – the nonprofit behind the truth youth smoking prevention campaign – you could also say this in a funny way – best known for sharing the facts about smoking and vaping or pull from some old campaigns. Just layer in a description of truth and who the campaign is., is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

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On September 20 in the U.S. and September 27 in Canada, Lush will shut the doors of its 250 shops, e-commerce sites, manufacturing facilities, and headquarters for a day, in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike taking place around the world. Lush is encouraging its 5000+ employees "to join this critical movement and take a stand until global leaders are forced to face the climate crisis and enact change."

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Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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The fine folks at Forbes are currently falling all over themselves trying to clean up the mess they created by publishing their 2019 list of 100 Most Innovative Leaders.

The problem: The list included 99 men and one woman. For those not so good with the math, that means according to Forbes, only 1% of the country's most innovative leaders are female.

Have you ever watched a movie that's so abysmally bad that you wonder how it ever even got made? Where you think, "Hundreds and hundreds of people had to have been directly involved in the production of this film. Did any of them ever think to say, 'Hey, maybe we should just scrap this idea altogether?"

That's how it feels to see a list like this. So how did Forbes come up with these results?

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