DocbookMD, which offers a secure physician messaging service, has partnered with Medweb, makers of a smartphone and web radiology PACS, to create Docbook Gateway, an HIE-like offering that gives physicians access to lab tests and X-rays on their smartphones without the need for an integrated EHR.
"This is the way HIEs were supposed to work," DocbookMD CEO Dr. Tim Gueramy told MobiHealthNews. "One of the bigger problems with HIEs is they almost silo their own data. They still don't have great interoperability. We just wanted [Docbook Gateway] to be this simple thing that would work with anybody. HIEs have no mobile footprint. You always have to go log in somewhere else, now it's just integrated in. It is kind of an HIE, but it's very very specific to things the doctor needs on their mobile phone to treat you."
Gueramy's co-founder and wife, DocbookMD CMO Dr. Tracey Haas, added another distinction.
"Another important point to that is, here in Austin, Texas, half of our doctors still aren't on an EMR and far fewer are on an EMR that's connected to a radiology lab," she said. "We're independent of that. HIEs need to be connected to an EMR to work."
Medweb's existing technology stores radiology imagery on a single secure server. Technicians can then access it from workstations or on their medical device. The software that displays images on mobile devices uses a pinch and zoom interface. The interface also allows the user to make annotations directly on the images.
DocbookMD is a mobile-based, HIPAA-compliant physician-to-physician communications platform. The company secured contact lists of physicians from medical societies, so the app allows doctors to contact each other whether they're in the same hospital or practice or not, as long as they know the name of the doctor they're trying to contact.
"I'm a family doctor who no longer works in the hospital," Haas said. "I felt it was very important for physicians like myself to communicate with the physicians in the hospital. That's a communication point that's really been neglected. We've got the entire community [using Docbook]. It's already uploaded. You don't have to invite your list of friends. They're already there when you join in."
In addition, a recently added feature called Care Teams allows doctors to add non-physicians into private Docbook networks, to communicate about a particular patient.
The new product, Docbook Gateway, integrates existing Medweb and DocbookMD infrastructures. Gueramy and Haas said the current way that radiologists and physicians communicate leaves a lot to be desired. Images are often sent by fax, and doctors and technicians don't have contact information for one another beyond office phone numbers.
They echoed the often-heard sentiment that secure physician communication is rapidly becoming an unimpressive offering -- providers like Docbook have to look further to provide a compelling value add.
"We looked at secure messaging as nothing more than putting some HIPAA regulations and technology on communication," said Gueramy. "I don't find that interesting. What I find interesting is working with communities that are already tightly connected, putting physicians first. And not giving them integration to a whole EMR, but just to get them the things they need -- stat X-rays."
Docbook isn't the only mobile company offering what amounts to an HIE workaround. Another company, Doximity, also facilitates physician image sharing over a secure message system. The company's founder Jeff Tangney recently told MobiHealthNews physicians were using Doximity and EMR screenshots as a "poor man's HIE."