Remco Bloemen: improving healthcare by using volunteers as early diagnosers

TEDxNijmegen 2013 Photo: Mirella Boot

Today, at TEDxNijmegen, Remco Bloemen, winner of the second annual Dutch NASA-Google Innovation Competition, spoke about how we can improve healthcare all over the world:  we should be working with first diagnosers for early medical diagnosis.

Early diagnosis is very important for many illnesses, yet early symptoms as pain, nausea and fatigue rarely warrant a visit to the general practitioner. The idea is to train volunteers to do early diagnosis. With their own smartphones and short training, laypeople can perform valuable early diagnosis. By using a network of volunteers, much like First Aid and AED, everyone can be reached quickly. Fatigue complaints can be examined easily and quickly by a friend or family member and serious illnesses get discovered early.

The illness of a good friend inspired him to come with this idea. His friend complained of being tired. He did what everybody does, when feeling sick. Go to bed early, eat healthy food, work less harder. A few months passed and his friend still complained. The pain got worse. Finally after a few months he got to the doctor. Within a week the doctor diagnosed cancer, now he is waiting to get treated.

Why did it take so long to hear the diagnosis?  The healthcare system itself is efficient. Most time is wasted before going to the doctor. What can we do about this: develop self diagnosing tools technology and educate volunteers on how to use and interprate these technologies.

“Would it not be great if I had been a volunteer and had taken this course?”, Remco ended his talk. He could not help his friend, but with his idea he can and will help many other patients all over the world.

A live blog by Irene van der Vorst