The Private Facebook for Doctors

A new app looks to "significantly change the way physicians use their smart phones." But will docs buy it?

This article originally appeared at iMedicalApps.com, part of the HCPLive network.

Doximity is an app that launched in the App store just over a week ago and has the potential to significantly change the way physicians use their smart phones.

The main focus of the app is physician communication and for this, it incorporates an innovative, secure SMS-like text service. But, its real power lies in its deep incorporation of multiple databases of physician and related information. In particular, the makers of the app carefully integrated data from the physician NPI and Medicare databases as well as lists of medical schools, hospitals, imaging centers and pharmacies. What they have produced is a surprisingly refined version 1 product that can quickly answer the myriad of small, practice-related questions that pop-up all day long during a busy schedule.

The depth of integration is evident early on during the registration process. Simply by entering your name and state, your profile is automatically populated with your medical school, residency and fellowship. In fact, the website immediately lists some of your medical school classmates’ specialties and cities, reminding you of old friends and quickly evoking a sense of physician community—similar to the Facebook experience.

From there, one can add “colleagues” to your list simply by selecting from among nearby physicians in your specialty or from your training program. The application also prompts you to enhance your profile with your practice name, group, and clinical interests. It even gives you the option to add your publications directly from PubMed. Any of these profile items would show up in a search on the network, so that anybody nearby or even far away looking for a physician with a specific clinical interest can immediately find you. Use of the app is restricted to physicians and verified health care providers.

One of the central features of the app is secure text messaging among physicians. This feature is only available among members of Doximity. In contrast to standard SMS, messages are sent encrypted and archived, thus HIPAA compliant. Importantly, a return receipt is generated informing the sender what time the recipient read the message. As most practicing physicians are painfully aware, the current paradigm stubbornly remains the fax machine and pink message slips. For colleagues who communicate frequently, such as a specialist with a primary care physician or a team of residents, this feature alone is a remarkable advance.

Other features include the ability to locate nearby pharmacies, imaging centers, hospitals and labs. Any of these can be added to your speed dial list. For physicians with whom you communicate frequently, you can also supplement their profile with their cell phone or back line numbers. Even easier is to include these data in your own “private” profile and then opt to share these with other physicians—again, similar to Facebook.

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