Symcat: Symptoms to Solutions
Johns Hopkins University medical student Craig Monsen is diving head first into the startup world with his website and mobile app Symcat. The CEO and co-founder said he developed the free tool to provide consumers a more accurate self-diagnosis of health problems.
Monsen said he believes the current market, including iTriage and WebMD, under-serves the roughly 80 percent of U.S. internet users who search for health information online. "Most of us go to Google for health information, but are led down an unfortunate path of thinking we have cancer or tuberculosis," said Monsen.
On Symcat, consumers can input their health symptoms and background, including gender, age, and family history of diseases. The tool then compares this data with real medical records archived in the Centers for Disease Control's bio-surveillance program to generate self-diagnoses.
This algorithmic-based approach could be a strength and a weakness. Theoretically, the self-diagnoses are more precise; however, the results could be skewed if patients can't articulate what ails them or they don't have sufficient knowledge about their family's health history.
Although this is a potential roadblock, Monsen sees his tool as a huge cost-savings for health plans and employers. According to the non-profit health care organization National Quality Forum, approximately $38 billion is wasted annually on unnecessary emergency room visits.
(Read more: Q&A With Symcat)
Monsen argues Symcat could help these entities save millions by pointing its users to more cost-effective avenues of care (i.e. local physicians or urgent care centers vs. emergency rooms).
Monsen says he's in talks with several national health insurers to license the tool as a policy benefit.
Symcat has raised $300,000 through an award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and health care accelerator Blueprint Health.
— By CNBC's Erin Barry & Marqui Mapp