Testing design assumptions with users is a critical ingredient in user-centered design. In Symcat’s early stages (ca 2012), we thought, for better or worse, that we would identify some eligible test users through Craigslist NYC. We were surprised by just how many people were willing to participate and collected some pretty interesting data in the process. I just stumbled upon it and I suspect much of it is still relevant, so I thought I would share. Get ready for some graphs.
I should begin by acknowledging the authors’ important contribution to elucidating the gap between what symptom checkers may hope to provide and the existing state of the art. Semigren et al adopt a pragmatic approach both by identifying which symptom checkers patients may reasonably find and assessing them in the most intuitive way imaginable: making them take the standardized patient tests we all take in medical school.
One of the stranger experiences I had explaining Symcat. It was cleverly edited to make the conversation more fast-paced.
You can watch the interview on the CNBC website.
I am appreciative for the opportunity to share alongside David some of my journeys in conceiving of and building Symcat during the Johns Hopkins Informatics Grand Rounds. In it, we talk about some of the history of decision support, the technology behind Symcat, and some additional points about entrepreneurship and web development that excite us.
If standing in front of 1,400 people for a live demo of your new app doesn’t get your pulse up, then… you’ve probably done it many times before. That was not the case for me. Fortunately, I didn’t need to do any extemporaneous speaking when I was next invited to the stage.
When people get sick, they have several options for obtaining health care. These include going to the emergency room, urgent care center, or calling a doctor or nurse. However, 80% of people experiencing symptoms start with an Internet search. Unfortunately, searching on Google offers spotty results and frequently leads to undue concern. For example, one is 1000x more likely to encounter “brain tumor” in web search results for “headache” than they are to ever have the disease. Undue concern is a contributor to the 40% of emergency room visits and 70% of physician visits that are considered to be inappropriate.