Practice Notes

Connect physicians online, connect the dots between care

Krista Teske

The emerging market of health care mobile apps and websites can be broken down into four categories:

  • Direct-to-patient communication
  • Clinical patient information gathering
  • Clinical decision support
  • Physician-to-physician networking

The fourth category has received little attention, yet its prevalence and potential impact has grown as of late.

For example, the Doximity platform has quickly become one of the largest medical networking sites in the U.S., with over 220,000 registered physicians. Beyond networking, however, Doximity helps physicians deliver more efficient, higher quality care by securely connecting them to other medical professionals and to tools that enhance their practice.

What Doximity offers

A national physician directory

The site includes contact information for over 700,000 U.S. physicians. When a physician joins the network, they can modify their pre-populated contact information. And while smaller networks are limited to only the most tech-savvy physicians, Doximity includes a broad range of medical professionals—making for a far more valuable networking experience.

A patient information sharing platform

Doximity's security sets it apart from other networking sites. Not only does it verify physician identities through a 3-step credential check before allowing them to join, it's also the first of its kind to be HIPAA compliant. Using it, physicians can securely message encrypted patient information such as lab results or imaging exams to other physicians.

A physician education tool

The platform has evolved to include continuing medical education (CME) services, accredited by Cleveland Clinic. Physicians can participate in online discussions with colleagues for credit, upload and share their published clinical journals, and host discussions related to clinical findings.

How medical groups can use it

Using social media sites like Doximity, groups can achieve two goals:

Connect with potential physician recruits.

Similar to LinkedIn, physician-only networking sites can expedite the recruitment process, offer physicians a platform for self-promotion, and help connect recruiters to top notch physicians.

Monitor competitor activity.

Group leaders can track when new physicians move into their markets and when they join competitor groups.

Three key benefits

By encouraging physicians to use the site, groups can reap three benefits:

  • Enhanced patient care coordination: Specialists can share urgent patient information with referring physicians. At the same time, PCPs can locate specialists with the specific expertise that their patients need.
  • Access to other physicians for on-demand clinical support: After residency, most physicians have limited access to colleagues with whom they could discuss difficult cases. By filling this gap, online networking sites can help raise care quality.
  • On-the-go access to CME and published journals: Doximity makes it easier for physicians to access clinical studies and fit CME into their hectic schedules.

Change in store for referral patterns?

Because this makes referring to a new physician less daunting, the platform has the potential to disrupt established referral patterns and to help medical groups access new markets.

It also lowers the barriers that have traditionally prevented physicians from referring to a broader range of local and non-local colleagues. This has the potential to increase out-of-network referral leakage—a threat group leaders will need to watch closely.

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