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Will Doximity crack the social healthcare market?

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Will Doximity crack the social healthcare market?

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Social collaboration in the healthcare sector has been a regular source of interest on the blog.  Early last year, for instance, I wrote about research from Johns Hopkins revealing the extent to which doctors and other healthcare professionals were using social media.  At the time, the paper suggested around 25% of clinicians were using social media on a daily basis, primarily to share work related information with one another.

It probably goes without saying, but most of this usage wasn’t on Facebook or LinkedIn, it was on dedicated healthcare communities.

“What did surprise us was the heavy use of online physician-only communities,” said Robert Millar, a researcher on the project.  “It’s possible that many physicians feel more comfortable with that type of social media instead of a more public space like Twitter or Facebook.”

The findings mimic those in other professions.  Recently, for instance it emerged that professionals spend around 40% of their time online in peer communities.  Far from being a waste of time or the home of the banal, most interactions on these communities was found to be educational.

So it’s perhaps not that surprising that Doximity has achieved the level of success that it has.  If you haven’t heard of the site before, it’s the self-styled LinkedIn for doctors, and they hit the news in the last week after successfully securing additional funding that valued the site at around the $500 million mark.

They claim that they have achieved better results than the Johns Hopkins data would suggest, with as many as 40% of all doctors in the US using the site.  Thus far, 300,000 have signed up to the site, with around 20,000 messages shared each day.

As a specialist healthcare network, the features are geared towards that particular profession.  For instance, one feature allows clinicians to send faxes securely, after the Doximity platform translates them into a digital message that goes direct to the recipients mobile device.

In other ways, the service is a familiar one.  Doctors have profiles with pictures and a CV style history.  As with LinkedIn, recruiters can pay to contact professionals on the site, with the site aiming to monetize the pain recruiters have in finding suitable candidates in the healthcare industry.

Another nice feature of the site is the mechanism available to members for accessing academic articles.  They can sign up for alerts in whatever specialism you care to mention, allowing professionals access to the latest research without having to trawl around looking for it.

It also comes complete with a secure messaging system to allow doctors to message one another regarding patients or other clinical matters.  As with LinkedIn, the platform is free for users, and this has no doubt contributed to the rapid growth seen on the site.  The company claim to be on track to sign up 50% of US physicians by this summer.

It will be interesting to see how the site develops, as they will surely want extra strings to their commercial bow than just recruitment.  Whilst it may seem logical for them to bring advertising onto the site, there are the inevitable ethical concerns around such an approach.

It’s pleasing to see professional communities such as Doximity emerging to provide more tailored and focused networking to professionals in a particular industry that perhaps aren’t getting what they need from the generalist sites such as LinkedIn.

It’s possible of course, that doctors want to be even more niche than Doximity.  I wrote recently about the rise of Radiopaedia, which is a wiki site for radiology professionals, whilst there is also a social network for pediatrics that has been created by IBM called Open Pediatrics.  Will these uber niche sites prevail over Doximity?  Only time will tell.  Certainly an area to watch however.

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