Until James Currier had four sons in 36 months, he was just a regular Silicon Valley entrepreneur. Having sold a start-up called Tickle to Monster in 2004, he took some time off to be with his newborns. When one of his babies was having trouble breathing one evening, Currier turned to the Internet to find out what might be wrong. “I didn’t actually have to go through any training to be a parent,” says Currier, “And I got online and I ended up on Web MD and I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. This is what people experience around medicine? All these Botox ads and, you know, a magazine article that goes for six pages and at the end just say go see your physician.'”
At the time, Currier didn’t see much value in the medical advice he saw online, but it wasn’t until a trip to the emergency room for cut above his son’s eye that he was convinced there was some room for improvement in the online medical space. “We got a bill for $7,300 and they didn’t do anything but put a band-aid on it,” says Currier, “he was fine but there was three or four people conferencing to decide what to do about it.” Currier felt his lack of knowledge around how to interface with the medical care system was profoundly flawed. He decided the best way the improve the situation would be to build a collaborative online platform for doctors, patients, and the general public exchange quality information and advice. He called the initiative The Medpedia Project.
In his Big Think interview, Currier says the problem with health care today is its structure of centralized control. “You always have to go back to the physician to get your prescription. You always have to physically to their office,” says Currier, “You can’t email your physician today. It’s 2010 and you still can’t e-mail your physician in most cases.” Many of the exorbitant costs associated with our health care system are result of people’s inability to get the information they need, from reliable sources, in real-time. Medpedia marries the concepts of Wikipedia and Facebook to create a commons where doctors and professionals can publish information and people can discuss their medical issues.