Doximity: A Mobile Facebook for Doctors, but With Real Privacy Protections

6/21/11Follow @wroush

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Since introducing the iPhone version of the service in December, Doximity has already signed up 17,000 physicians. “I believe that a megatrend we’re seeing in other parts of the enterprise software landscape—end users increasingly making their own choices about the technology that will help them do their jobs better—will come to healthcare,” says Kevin Spain, a general partner at Emergence Capital Partners. “Doximity is riding this trend by bringing easy-to-use collaboration tools to physicians.”

At its core, Doximity has just five elements:

• Personal profiles, customizable so that doctors can add areas of expertise, publications, and the like.

• A directory of all U.S. physicians, searchable according to their locations, their specialties, the medical schools they attended, and the languages they speak.

• A directory of pharmacies, hospitals, labs, and other medical facilities.

• A private phone list for quick access to local colleagues.

• “DocText,” a HIPAA-compliant mobile messaging system that allows doctors to exchange encrypted text messages and photos and get confirmation that individual messages were received.

The first four features are “a little more lightweight” and basically function as a physicians’ equivalent of Facebook or LinkedIn, Tangney says. Generally, doctors can’t use the real Facebook or the real LinkedIn because they’re not HIPAA-compliant—and the population of physicians isn’t large enough to make it worth either company’s time to develop compliant versions.

But DocText is more unusual. “It’s like any other group messaging tool, but the key thing is that it’s encrypted end to end,” says Tangney. “Say I’m a gastroenterologist and I do a dozen biopsies a day. One is cancerous. Legally I need to tell the patient’s other doctors right away, but we don’t give doctors many tools to communicate, since it’s illegal to send regular e-mail. They can send a fax, but that doesn’t have confirmation receipt. What we do is send a push notification via phone or the Web. It will pop up, you enter your pin code, and you go straight to the message and it’s counted as viewed, and a time-stamped confirm-receipt message gets pushed back. It’s like FedEx—you have to sign for it and let the other person know you got it.”

The whole thing is free for doctors. The revenue plan, says Tangney, is to charge recruiters for job listings delivered via the app, offer sponsored access to online courses for … Next Page »

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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