The smallest unit of medical knowledge

How rethinking case reports could open new paths to treatment discovery

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The smallest unit of medical knowledge is a single case — one patient, one treatment, one outcome. Did they get better?

While one patient’s outcome says little about what may or may not be true for other patients, together case reports could speak volumes. Promising trends in off-label drug use, refinements to clinical trial conclusions, and the untapped potential of big data in health records are still largely siloed within the halls of hospitals.

There are efforts by large tech companies to extract this data — for private use. Google, Microsoft, and Amazon are all aggressively pushing to get access to health care systems to help streamline and improve the notoriously inefficient healthcare industry. These efforts may help improve care within specific health systems, but are not designed to advance medical knowledge.

As an academic publisher, our core service is to empower clinicians to publish life changing information and distribute it as widely as possible. Whether it’s removing paywalls, designing a simpler format for reports, or making it easier to access underlying data for further analysis, we are focused on advancing medical knowledge — for everyone.

This could be huge.

Imagine patients having the opportunity to donate their experience to help others with their same condition. Imagine all clinical researchers having access to published case reports so they can tirelessly work towards improving care and developing new treatment options.

So… what’s the hold up? Let’s do it!

Our vision is a new way of thinking about case reports. Our vision requires making it much faster, simpler, and cheaper to publish. Our vision isn’t possible when it costs $1,000 and takes half a year to publish a single case.

A streamlined publishing workflow for peer reviewed clinical case reports is allowing us to pursue two exciting opportunities:

First, we want to build a more robust, up to date resource of case reports to inform future clinical trials. Organizing pre-clinical trial activity will help ensure that the right drugs are being studied at the right time with the highest likelihood of success. Emerging clinical insights can also prospectively stimulate and guide what information is being captured by case reports. Too much medical knowledge is left unpublished because of the high barriers of publication. Rapidly publishing case reports will allow the global clinical community to refine, predict, and discover new treatment options.

Second, quickly unfolding health crises such as the mysterious vaping illness, viral outbreaks, and emergence of drug-resistant bugs require a rapid response from both clinicians and researchers. Real time publishing of new cases allows researchers around the world to help detect and predict outbreaks, and rapidly deliver insights about how we should be responding. If successful, this would represent an unprecedented rapid research response for tackling pressing health crises.

Case reports are the oldest type of medical publication. Today, they focus on exceedingly rare cases, serving more as a novelty or conversation starter than a practical resource for actually guiding care. We believe case reports can provide so much more. But it will require re-thinking how we publish, read, and analyze case reports in the era of big data.

We’re excited to announce a new home for clinical leaders to rapidly publish peer reviewed case reports in 7 days, for free.

We can’t wait to see what comes next.

Learn more about rapid clinical case reports at www.flashpub.io

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We’re a passionate group of researchers, technologists, designers, and science lovers building a better way to share scientific discovery

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