Keeping up to date on the latest medical news and research can be quite a hassle. Sometimes you wish there was a way to keep track of it with much ease.
In today’s Emerging Health Technology Spotlight, we had the chance to talk to Mitesh Patel, Co-Founder of Docphin, and hear more about his company’s platform, hailed by TechCrunch as “A Bloomberg for Doctors.”
HTI: Could you describe Docphin?
Mitesh: Docphin is a platform for healthcare providers to personalize, share and connect through medical content.
HTI: When did you get started and what led your team to creating this medical journal news aggregator?
Mitesh: We got started maybe a year and a half to two years ago. When we started we actually spent a long time, almost a year, leveraging our network over a hundred physicians across specialties and across training levels to figure out what were the ways that they accessed content for each specialty, what were the major journals or the major medical societies and things that were most important for them, and how do they consume content. We consider it the platform way more than an aggregator. It has not just medical journals, it also allows people to connect to that content, share the content, includes a variety of other sources including Twitter and social shares that let you look through clinical guidelines.
And the main reason that we set out to create this platform was to solve a big problem in healthcare, that being essentially information overload. So as a physician or healthcare provider you’re faced with having to take care of patients on the go in the clinic, in the hospital, and medical research is evolving rapidly, and so being able to access that and make it relevant to your patient is extremely important. And so we wanted to solve that problem.
HTI: What is your target market and how can they benefit from using Docphin?
Mitesh: Our target market is healthcare professionals and healthcare providers in general. They can benefit from using Docphin by signing up for the platform, personalizing it. When they sign up it builds a page based on their interest with the relevant sources, and they can go and then personalize that further. We just released our iPhone app a few weeks back and will be working on more mobile apps, and so they can now use this at the point of care.
HTI: You mentioned that Docphin is more than just RSS feeds. How does it differentiate itself from traditional RSS feeds that you get from various websites and plug into RSS readers like Google Reader?
Mitesh: This is a question we get a lot, and once people use Docphin it, they realize it’s much different. Docphin is the only platform and mobile app that allows you to get full access articles to 100% of the content. RSS feeds go back six to eight weeks. One of the big things that most people don’t know about medical research is that only about 20% of the articles are free to access. The rest of it requires a subscription. If you have an RSS feed to all the journals on our site, you can only access about 20% of that content and can only go back about six weeks.
On Docphin we do a couple of things that make it much more powerful and relevant to the user. We go back over a decade. So you can go back to the year 2000 and even go back further than that. You get full access to everything through your institutional subscription. We’re right now live at 25 institutions, and if you sign on, for example, if you’re at the University of Pennsylvania and you sign on, you can get full access to all of this, and it’s the first time that you can do that on a mobile phone, with our iPhone app that came out last week.
It also has relevancy filters. For example, you get RSS and Google Reader, it basically pulls—or some people can go to PubMed and create RSS feeds. PubMed is the government database of all literature that’s written. The problem is that you’ll get a lot of junk. For every article that’s written, there are three or four replies to the author with a couple of paragraphs about how people agree or disagree with the author, and for the most part, those are not as high yield as the actual randomized controlled trials or perspective articles. We have filters that separate the meaningful from the less meaningful articles and make that more relevant.
In addition, we have over 250 sources for journal articles; we also have over 250 Twitter feeds. So one of the things that we’ve found in that first year when we were really kind of learning about how healthcare providers consume content is that less than 10 to 15% of doctors use Twitter on a regular basis. When we curated Twitter feeds based on medical societies and experts from the field, people look at it as their stock ticker for doctors. It was the first time that they were able to get a real pulse into what was going on in the market that was relevant to their specialty and their practice.
HTI: How important is the social media integration with the service?
Mitesh: I think it’s very important. We have a product that is the first that provides full access to everything. It’s also seamless. If you were to access this content right now if we’re not at your institution, it’s about a seven-step process. For instance, if you were at UPenn before we launched this or any other institution, you had to log into your library, log into the university system, log into the journal system, type the name of the article, type 2012, issue 7, volume 6 – we do that with one click. On top of that, we allow physicians and healthcare providers to connect through that content. So you can imagine that if you’re a pulmonologist and you’re interested in reading the news article that came out on asthma and you want to discuss it with somebody else that’s also either a pulmonologist or interested in asthma, you can do that on Docphin. That’s the benefit of the platform – being able to connect physicians through content, and we really feel that we’re attacking this problem from a totally different perspective that no one else has done.
HTI: How can health professionals or medical institutions that aren’t on Docphin started with it?
Mitesh: We designed the platform and launched nationally in May, which is just a little over 10 weeks ago. We were at that time at three institutions, and over the past 10 weeks we have now increased to 25. So we’re expanding pretty rapidly. We were overwhelmed with interest for the platform. We now have a long waitlist of institutions and we’re unlocking them one to two a week, and we’re getting emails and requests every day for new places. If we’re not in an institution and someone would like us to come there, they can either send us an email or go to our website and just send us a note, and then we’re happy to look into being able to launch it there. But our goal is to be able to solve this big problem for everybody and expand nationally throughout the next year.
HTI: It sounds like it has been going extremely well for you and your team. So what’s next?
Mitesh: There are a couple of things next. We started with the foundation of content being medical journals, Twitter feeds, and then as we went along we started adding things, and we’re going to be enriching that content to make it more meaningful, further personalizing the site so it’s more relevant to you. We added a trending feature recently which lets you see where are the hot articles on Docphin, and we’ll be personalizing those to your interests and continue to develop this. We’ll be working on ways to better connect physicians through the content, so going one step beyond just the basic social platform and really being able to connect to physicians. And then, we’ll be releasing our iPad app sometime in the next few months, and we really feel that that’s going to be game-changing for healthcare. There are going to be things on our iPad apps that have never been seen in the medical field before, specifically in the ability to discover content in a way that you haven’t been able.