Users enter their location and their symptoms, then see how commonly those symptoms are by reported by other users by location and other simple demographics.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control) provides flu data but only to the State level and only on a time scale of 1 week. For example, they will report that in the state of California, last week, there were 539 cases of the flu reported. While this information may be useful for some health practitioners or academics, for the average individual, this does not come in handy when they are trying to figure out what kinds of sicknesses are going around their area. It is not local enough, timely enough, or broad enough because they don’t cover different types of sicknesses.
In contract, whoissick provides local (down to the zip code level), timely (within a day), and broad (many different symptoms, not just the flu) sickness information.
The idea for the site came from a (typical) four hours spent in an emergency room:
The genesis of the idea for Who Is Sick was actually from an acute need that our founder had when his wife started experiencing severe stomach pain while they were on vacation. With no way of knowing whether the pain was from appendicitis, food poisoning, or some other stomach illness, our vacationing couple went to the emergency room and waited for 4 hours (BTW – this was from 11pm until 3am) to be seen by a doctor…only to be told that there was a stomach flu going around and that if the pain didn’t go away in 24 hours, to come back. Wow. 4 hours wait for that…in the middle of the night… (of course the doctor did check to see if it was appendicitis so they weren’t all bad…).
Our founder thought, “if only there were a website that had current AND local sickness information, maybe we could have avoided the long wait.” Needless to say, this started the wheels spinning and a couple of months later, Who Is Sick was born.
But since the data will come from self-selected participants (disproportionately hypochondriacs?), won’t that skew the data? It’ll be interesting to see if it is of any use.