What caught our attention then, in particular, was the ability to not only network with other physicians, but also to communicate with them in a secure, HIPAA compliant way.
A year and a half is a long time though. We had the opportunity to catch with with Dr. Alex Blau, medical director at Doximity, who updated us on a number of new features currently available and in the works.
Ranging from a space for discussing clinical cases to integration of paging, scheduling, and faxing services, its clear that the folks at Doximity have certainly been busy.
Part of what makes Doximity a powerful social network is that it is built on a pretty extensive set of data. “We have relationships with 21 different public datasets,” Dr. Blau notes. That enables Doximity to pull in everything from location, practice area, clinical trial work, indexed publications, and more that create a rich user profile from the get go – and with no effort from the user, particularly important with time-crunched physicians.
As Dr. Blau points out, that also makes it easier to network and to do so in a more powerful way. “If I need somebody who has a very unique specialty…thats a search you can pretty easily in Doximity that is really hard otherwise.”
On this social network, then, are a variety of features to enable meaningful engagement with your professional community. One example is iRounds, a relatively new feature that creates a safe, secure space for discussing everything from interesting clinical cases to journal articles to regulatory changes. Every physician has stopped a colleague or been stopped by a colleague in the hallway to discuss a perplexing case – iRounds is sort of like that except the “hallway” is now an online community of physicians with a wide range of expertise and experience. For users earlier in their career, myself included, its also a great place for learning.
Another feature, currently in beta, is DocNews. “When I think about medical literature that I trust, there is a definite hierarchy to that…all the way at the top is my peers. What my colleagues bring to me…thats what I trust the most. That’s what we are trying to bring our users.” With DocNews, Doximity aggregates hundreds of journal RSS feeds that can be personalized by each user. Using these feeds, users can see what their colleagues are reading which, as Dr. Blau notes, is a starting point for conversation.
There are also features on the way aimed out physicians’ day-to-day workflow. One, currently in beta, is the ability to send and receive faxes, a capability that many physicians will find useful given the heavily fragmented health IT system. Another, currently available as a separate iPhone app, is integration with the popular physician scheduling system Amion. Building on that capability, Dr. Blau notes that Doximity is planning to add in integration with paging systems in the future as well.
We should note that Doximity is a free network, including all of the above noted features, which raises one obvious question – how will this work financially? We posed that question to Doximity CEO Jeff Tangney who told us that, among other things, Doximity was exploring monetization through surveys, recruiting, and consulting. Part of that has come to fruition with the Expert Finder tool which enables Doximity partners to find experts using Doximity’s network for interviews, consulting work, and second-opinions. In addition, Dr. Blau notes that this tool could also be readily expanded into a recruiting service for interested physicians.
Dr. Blau points out that this approach is a win-win for both Doximity and its users, who are paid for their services. As Mr. Tangney pointed out and Dr. Blau reinforced, this access is mediated by Doximity, meaning that the user lists and information remain protected.
The recent announcement of the UCSF Doximity app, designed as dedicated community for Stanford alumni within the Doximity network, highlights another approach Doximity is taking, namely paid institutional accounts. Its not hard to imagine how health systems, training programs, and other groups, in addition to alumni associations, may find value in an internal, virtual community. In this case, the Stanford app and community enable users to reach out to fellow alumni, maintain CV’s, and follow colleagues on Twitter.
Overall, Doximity has certainly come a long way from the nascent physician social network we learned about more than a year ago. The features highlighted above are individually exciting and collectively demonstrate the power that social media can have in medicine.
Whether your practice is in the most rural, isolated part of Kansas or at a tertiary care center in New York, it will be possible for physicians to learn from and collaborate with colleagues across the country. And thats a win for both patients and physicians.
[Disclosure: One of our Editors, Felasfa Wodajo, serves as an advisor to Doximity; Dr. Wodajo was not involved in the decision to write this article, the interview, or writing of this article.]