Doximity is a mobile-based social network for physicians. It brings back memories of Sermo, which was my first review, written more than two years ago. Doximity  was started by Jeff Tangney who was also one of the co-founders of Epocrates- an extremely popular physician information tools vendor that recently filed for an IPO in July 2010.

The free app is currently only available for iPhone platform. It offers a staple of standard social networking functionality- creating profile pages, looking up colleagues based on certain criteria, finding med-school classmates, sharing private contact info, sending messages etc. Being mobile-focused gives it some amount of differentiation from other online physician networking sites, I guess. Users can also look up phone numbers and location maps of healthcare facilities like pharmacies but I dont quite see what is the unique selling point in that. Below is a short video demo of some of the functionality.

On to more important things.

Their about page hints at their possible revenue models – “We have a number of fee-based products in the works, including a service for hospitals and clinics to better manage their scheduling and on-call lists“. In an online interview with iMedicalApps, their CEO gave more details. First, they plan to sell a premium version (base version will always be free) to hospitals as a real-time ‘enhanced communication tool’ for physicians so they can get quick consults, updates etc. from each other. That may work, but only if the hospitals or physician groups foot the complete bill for such an ‘enhancement’ tool. I doubt individuals would pay anything for it- enlightened physicians may already have effective substitutes through enterprise EMR messaging functionality or Linkedin/Twitter.

Second one was honorariums given for occasional survey participation. Hmm…don’t think practicing physicians would find that lucrative enough to join, since the time spent on doing such things is almost never worth the money that can be offered in return.

Third one was mediation fee for physician recruiting. Now that may work, but it depends on how they structure the job-exchange functionality. Because there is a real risk of physician recruiters short-circuiting Doximity and approach the candidate physicians directly if they can identify them for free on the network.

Irrespective of the vague details on the revenue model, I’m a supporter of niche social networks. I think the Facebooks and Linkedins of the world are eventually going to be victims of their own success. Beyond a certain size, generic networks risk imploding under their own weight. Just like MySpace did. Professional networks (especially for highly paid professions like doctors, lawyers) need to serve very specific purpose and be fine-tuned to that. One specific aspect that may be served well by a real-time physician social network is scheduling. Enterprise-wide, rules-based smart scheduling that enables physicians to manage their availability in a group setting is a tough problem to solve. There is some analogy to be found in the nurse scheduling space- a startup called YourNurseIsOn. This page explains what they do. That kind of service, I think, is something that large healthcare establishments can find convincing enough to pay for.

By the way, those who know Joomla (the popular open-source content management system) would notice the uncanny resemblance of Doximity logo to Joomla’s logo. Hopefully they will realize it at some point and get a new logo made.

Dec 2011 Update: Doximity changed their logo..