Doximity's new iPad app and the "poor man's HIE"

By Jonah Comstock
02:02 pm

DoximityDoximity, the medical communications platform headed up by Epocrates co-founder Jeff Tangney, has announced its first tablet app, an iPad product that offers various improvements to its existing iPhone and Android offerings that take advantage of the larger screen real estate. The company also announced that it now has 160,000 physician users.

"We've always been a mobile first company. We started with an iPhone app, then an Android app, and then a website," Tangney told MobiHealthNews. "But doctors have always used the iPhone app on the iPad. The key thing was to add the ability for doctors to sign, make notes, and share notes on faxes on their iPads. That takes a little while to do, but now we have it and it looks great. It really is the doctor's new electronic clipboard."

Doximity has always competed with doctors' use of fax machines to correspond with one another and with pharmacies. With the iPad app, each doctor will get their own fax number, allowing them to receive faxes directly on their iPad. On the tablet's large screen, doctors can notate and sign the faxes, CC them to emails and other faxes, and in many cases send them right back to their sender, allowing quick turnaround for much of a physician's paperwork. And unlike consumer products that offer electronic faxing, Doximity's process is all HIPAA-compliant.

In addition, other features of Doximity's app are enhanced in the context of the new form factor.

"It is the same functionality we had on the iPhone, just bigger and reformatted," Tangney said. "We didn't just do a straight port, we went through and added a few fun things. Like when I do a search for cardiologists in my area, before we would just show you a list, but now we'll show you a map with their faces as pins on the map."

A core feature of Doximity is a social reader function that lets doctors share and comment on academic research. Tangney said that the new form factor is ideal for reading journal articles.

"Just like a lot of people use Flipboard as their magazine e-reader, our DocNews, which filters through all the news that a doctor's colleagues are reading, I can flip through more like a magazine experience," he said.

Doximity's 160,000 physicians users make up more than 20 percent of the physicians in the United States, according to Tangney. The company hit 50,000 physician members in March 2012, and 100,000 in October 2012, according to their press release. Tangney compared Doximity's growth to the early days of Epocrates, his former company.

"I can say the growth at Doximity has been multiple times the growth we had back then at Epocrates," he said. "At Epocrates we kind of stalled at 100,000 users, because there was just no network effect to it. In the last five years, Epocrates has had a lot of growth. But here we have the effect that the value of the product to the 100,000th doctor is a lot greater than it was to the 10,000th doctor. There's a huge first mover advantage for being the place where most other people you want to talk with are."

Tangney said the company wasn't sharing how engaged the 160,000 doctors are with the platform other than it was "more than LinkedIn, less than Facebook." He said Doximity wants to be an available tool for doctors, but doesn't necessarily need them to use the platform as voraciously as the average Facebook user.

"We haven't been trying to goose engagement, but we see pretty decent engagement. A decent chunk is the journal club, and the other is just secure messages. Some are patient-related, but some are just reconnecting with friends from your residency. I think that's because we offer HIPAA compliance and an easier way to do some of the day to day interaction."

Tangney declined to comment on whether an Android tablet app was coming. He said a next step for the company is EHR interoperability, but doctors are already finding workarounds.

"We don't have a lot of interfaces built to EHRs yet. We're working on some. I have seen some physicians who will take a screenshot of their EHRs, and attach that message through a secure message on Doximity. That becomes a poor man's HIE," he said. "The billion dollar question is 'Will we get interoperability in healthcare?' The answer is 'We're not there yet.'"

Want MobiHealthNews in your inbox? Sign up for our twice-weekly newsletter -- it’s free!