John Cox is not a name you might immediately recognize; however, there is a good chance you have heard of, seen or used one of the apps his team created.

I am, of course, talking about drawMD and their range of patient education apps which we have reported on.

John Cox is CEO of VisibleHealth and has been directly involved with drawMD since their founding in 2010.


He was kind enough to take the time to talk to iMedicalApps about drawMD and other issues related to mobile technology.

Please tell us a little bit about your background and the founding of drawMD?

Prior to founding Visible Health and the start of the drawMD project, I founded a healthcare software product services business called Escalation Point (  EP is a team of software product strategy, design, and development professionals focusing on solutions in the healthcare industry. We have great relationships with large corporations like McKesson and The Advisory Board company, research and development institutions like SRI International, and individual clinical entrepreneurs.

drawMD came out of one of those entrepreneurial relationships, where we were working with Dr. Todd Morgan and Dr. Alex Kutikov to provide technical and operational support for their venture, one of the leading sites for prospective urologists.

During one of our many conversations – right after the first iPads were delivered in April 2010 – Dr. Kutikov brought up the idea of using the iPad as a visual support for patient counseling.

He described pulling out the exam table paper and grabbing a pencil to sketch kidneys and prostates for his surgical urologic oncology patients, then tearing of the paper and sending his patients home with it.  With the mobile form factor we felt like we could create a shared experience for the physician and the patient, and with simple, customizable artwork and drawing tools – as opposed to animations and videos – the patient would be a participant in the synthesis of the information.  That would lead to better understanding, retention, and ability to participate in the decision-making process.

The widespread availability of the tablet in a device like the iPad was the catalyst.  Mobile technology–particularly the tablet form factor–makes it easier for physician and patient to stand side-by-side and have a conversation about what they are seeing on the tablet.  Coupled with web technology, it’s easier for the physician to share that context with the patient, promoting information retention and encouraging participation.

We were fortunate to have a business relationship with the urology business at Boston Scientific who understood what we were trying to do and they provided the initial support we needed through a sponsorship of the drawMD Urology app–a sponsorship that is entering it’s third year.

We released that initial app in November of 2010 and as it grew in popularity and use over the next year, we decided to enlist the help of a handful of other clinical consultants in other specialties to develop additional drawMD apps.

What is your vision for drawMD?

The vision for drawMD and Visible Health in general is provider-led provider-patient collaboration. The system as a whole has a lot to gain from patients being better stewards of their own care but the average patient simply doesn’t have the knowledge, experience and motivation to do this on their own. They need collaborators–clinical professionals like their doctors, nurses, therapists, and others–who can provide that knowledge and context along with the healthcare services they provide AND to encourage them to get more actively involved.

This is where we position ourselves–providing tools, content and services to the healthcare professional to help them be more clear, consistent and efficient in communicating with and educating their patients.

What does the future of drawMD 3.0 hold for patient education?

We are going to start rolling drawMD 3.0 out into the specialty-specific drawMD apps over the coming weeks, starting with the OB/GYN application. We took an opportunity to revisit everything about the application under the covers, as well as the overall design and aesthetic of the app.

We added in a handful of oft-requested features like searching, better stamp manipulation controls, and full-screen drawing and viewing. More than anything, though, we have laid the groundwork for the future.

There are three big themes we are going to be tackling going forward this year:

  1. A more useful, powerful and customizable drawMD app
  2. Meeting users demands for drawing and other content to deliver through the platform on shorter cycle times
  3. More focus on the patient experience

The first one is about more features (slideshows, voice annotations, organizing saved content, iPhone support), continued improvement of the user experience, and the ability for a user to better control the content and features within a single drawMD app. The second one is about making more and more relevant content available to our users (more specialties, additional templates within existing specialties, deeper dive in subspecialties) as well as expanding beyond drawing templates into other assets that can be useful during patient counseling. The last one is about beginning to offer tools on the patient side. Patients can consume, retain and leverage information shared with them by their providers.