Tablet publishing is a nascent domain. Consider that Flipboard, arguably the runaway success story, was in stealth mode mid-2010 and had started getting serious traction a year later. The underlying concept of creating aggregated, curated and organized channels for personalized content consumption in a magazine like format has never been so viable. It hasn’t taken entrepreneurs long to recognize this and start applying it to niche markets.
Docphin leverages that same fundamental paradigm shift for medical content. It is positioned (their own words) as “a free platform that personalizes medical news and research”. It’s been called the ‘Bloomberg for Doctors‘, but I disagree since they don’t create original content like Bloomberg. They re-purpose and re-format it for customized consumption, like Flipboard.
Regardless, its a fact that physicians (clinicians, in general) are drowning in a sea of ever-changing medical knowledge. It’s perhaps more like a tsunami, if you consider the explosive growth of peer-reviewed scientific literature. One way to survive is to stay on land, i.e. be blissfully ignorant and pray to avoid an error and subsequent malpractice suit. Another is to get on board a chartered vessel of some kind – navigate with help of others who curate the content for you or give you the tools to do so.
I’ve not had a chance to use Docphin personally since their beta signup was over by the time I got to it. They claim to help combine multiple information sources, giving various filters to control and customize the final publication. There seem to be pre-configured channels for specialties, social sharing/commenting and instapaper-like personal archiving features. No real info about business model, so I’m curious what direction that will take. Hopefully Docphin team will be creative and go for something more than just ad-based revenue.
Overall, this is a great niche to be in. Analogous applications in other verticals (law? finance? or any significant topic with enough professional or enthusiast population) may be just as interesting. Key to success would be figuring out the right channel partnerships to get in front of enough customers and to be sufficiently sticky that users get addicted. That, sadly enough, is the toughest part in permeating healthcare industry.