Unless you've avoided newspapers like the plague over the last year or so, you know that some people in the United States aren't exactly happy with their healthcare. Insurance companies bog down the system, potentially fruitful developments get underfunded and lost in red tape, and the average citizen has very little say in terms of changing the care he or she receives, meaning that the concerns of niche communities can fall to the wayside.
MedStartr steps in to attempt to solve some of these problems, bringing with it a Kickstarter-like system of promoting, backing, and subsequently developing crowdfunded health institutions and developments. The real Kickstarter, unfortunately, doesn't allow healthcare initiatives to be funded through its platform, so Medstartr creators Mike Pence and Alex Fair took matters into their own hands. Adding a few tweaks of their own, they made a system specifically geared towards getting important developments the funding they need.
I mentioned before that this project would benefit niche communities; Indeed, the changes that Pence and Fair put in place make it easier for small groups of like individuals to get the care they deserve. The project goals, compared to Kickstarter, are much lower; most top out under $10,000, with many below $5,000. This makes it easier for a project to be completely backed by a small group, instead of requiring the thousands of eyes that Kickstarter pulls in. A project to create specialized bras for breast cancer survivors, for example, was fully backed with the help of less than 50 participants.
Another key difference is that while Kickstarter often solicits money for pre-production, concepts, or simple ideas, MedStartr is after the final product. If you post your project on the website, there is an implicit understanding that you will provide a tangible service almost immediately after the project is funded. I understand this decision; people don't screw around with their health, so if they're donating money to a potential aid for themselves or their family, they don't want to see it disappear. Putting your hope into relief that may not ever arrive is often worse than no hope at all.
Personally, I think this is a great idea. While I would almost never trust the average individual to completely take charge of their own health, the wisdom of crowds in this situation is very potent. Risky cancer treatment not getting the attention it deserves? Throw the researchers some money to have it independently developed. And I can't wait to see what parents will do to this platform once they catch wind; it could be like a PTA for pediatrics!
I plan to keep my eye on MedStartr, and urge readers to do the same. This is crowdsourcing at its finest, when ordinary people are given the power to enact real, positive change in institutions they previously had no control over. Future developments should be very promising.