Bioethics Blogs

Health Care and Crowdsourcing: A CrowdCry For Help.

Crowdsourcing seems this month’s health care buzzword. It is
everywhere. I’ve seen it used in three different health care contexts over the
last months: 1) as a means to raise money for treatment, 2) as a means to gain
access to treatments, and 3) as a means to help medical diagnoses.  In thinking about these contexts I found
myself asking: Would I use it, or would I not? I am curious to hear if you
would use the tool of crowdsourcing, after I give my ideas. Please feel free to
comment at the end of my post.

What is

The dictionary defines crowdsourcing as: “the practice of
obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a
large group of people and especially from the online community rather than from
traditional employees or suppliers”
. In my own
terms, crowdsourcing is an appeal to the online crowd/public to assist in a
specific endeavor, like the above. Crowdsourcing is about ‘power in numbers’.  It could be an appeal to the public to raise
money, signatures, or to gather information/expertise. 


A first recent crowdsourcing references appeared in the
context of raising
money for treatment of a special needs child
. Although, the term
crowdsourcing only led indirectly to the money for this goal, plenty of
direct examples of this type of crowdsourcing
can be found on the internet.
My concerns about crowd-use for this reason are limited. This use of crowdsourcing,
or crowdfunding, does not seem much different from fund raising overall. Crowdfunding
does attach to a particular and individualized case, raising some concerns.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.