February 21, 2012
It’s 3am. You’ve got diarrhea, a fever, and a blistering headache. Your spouse demands that you go to the hospital. You think it’s a mild-case of food poisoning and are convinced that Pepto-Bismol, fluid, and time are ample solutions to the problem. Who’s right?
The wrong answer means either a few wasted hours and unnecessary hospital fees, or even worse, compromised health. It’s an important question.
ER Advisor has the answer. (And for the record, it was “go to your nearest emergency room immediately.” Always listen to your spouse.)
Created by epidemiologist Dr. Mike Hartmann, this Ottawa, Canada-based startup aims to solve the problem of overcrowded hospitals by reducing the number of unwarranted visits. By simply inputting your symptoms and zip code at the bottom of their homepage, ER Advisor will indicate whether your symptoms are urgent, semi-urgent, or non-urgent and offer alternative routes for treating the issue.
In addition to the symptom input/output feature, ER Advisor also pulls information from various state and provincial surveillance sites, including the Centers for Disease Control and the Public Health Agency of Canada, to display a geographic overlay of which illnesses are prominent and where.
If ER Advisor is able to gain traction it could compile an interesting database of what symptoms are occurring and where. As seen with Google Flu Tracker, search queries and online data collection can often predict regional epidemics even before your local doctor’s office (Google first, call the doc second). How this would be monetized is still unclear, but advertisers could target treatments to regions experiencing a particular outbreak.
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