Anyone who’s had the experience of wading through databases of medical research papers has likely asked herself, “Isn’t there a better way?” That’s what Mitesh Patel and his team at Docphin thought of when they created their tool, hailed by TechCrunch as the “Bloomberg for Doctors.” A physician entrepreneur who’s also serving as a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar, Mitesh took time out of his schedule to answer a few of our questions about Docphin.
Shiv Gaglani, Medgadget: What exactly is Docphin and what is its value proposition?
Mitesh Patel: It’s been estimated that a significant portion of the nearly $3 trillion in U.S. healthcare spending is wasteful and unnecessary. Much of this could be avoided by following evidence-based guidelines, but it often takes more than a decade for established research to become standard of care.
Docphin’s vision is to improve health care quality by accelerating the application of the evidence-based medicine in the clinical setting. Docphin’s provider platform streamlines access to medical research from over 5000 journals and recommends content that’s relevant to the user’s interests and trending among peers. Providers save their subscription credentials to the device and quickly access PDFs that can be saved for later or shared with colleagues, all from their mobile device.
Docphin’s hospital platform enables departments and residency programs to upload clinical guidelines, hospital protocols, and decision-making references for mobile access and provides detailed engagement metrics to help accelerate the implementation process within the health care system. Residency programs can leverage Docphin’s unique platform to track and measure objective metrics that can be used to help meet new accreditation milestones set by the ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education).
Medgadget: How did you come up with the idea?
Patel: Each of the three founders came together with different experiences but the same common problems. Evidence-based medical research was fragmented across many different journals, full text articles were difficult to access because of firewalls requiring 5-7 steps, and almost none of content was leveraging technology to enable peer discussions and clinical recommendations. As a medical student balancing clinical training with medical research, I spent hours and hour searching for relevant articles. Even when I knew the exact article I wanted I felt like I had to jump through hoops just to get the PDF to read the study. While research had slowly transitioned from paper to digital, almost none of it was available via mobile access.
Medgadget: About how many people are currently using the platform? Can you share any additional statistics of interest?
Patel: We spend all our time focusing on providing the best value to our users and our key metric is engagement. While anyone can signup and use Docphin, we’ve built communities from the ground up within hospital and health care institutions. In 2012, we launched at three hospitals in May and by September we had expanded to over 25 institutions. Our growth has accelerated throughout 2013 and our provider platform is now being used in over 350 institutions in over 15 countries. Since launching the latest version of our mobile apps in August 2013, our user base has grown 2.5 fold.
Docphin’s hospital platform was in beta at UPenn for the first six months. During the initial pilot we found that while using Docphin’s platform, providers accessing medical research in the clinical setting grew by 50% and compliance with hospital protocols more than doubled. In the summer of 2013, we expanded to a select group of large academic medical centers that included Columbia, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, Geisinger, and UPenn. Some of the programs reported engagements levels as low as 15% weekly active usage before implementing Docphin. However, within one month of using our platform we saw weekly active engagement levels as high as 85-90%. After several months, we observed sustained engagement among providers at institutions licensing Docphin’s platform.
Medgadget: Much of Dophin’s recent work has focused on mobile development. Can you discuss why?
Patel: It’s often stated that physicians are late adopters of technology. However, there’s lots of evidence to suggest that’s not true when it comes to mobile technology. Several studies suggest smartphone and tablet penetration may actually be higher among physicians than the general population. What’s currently lacking are mobile applications that can truly impact clinical care. At Docphin we want to not only make evidence-based medical research more accessible using mobile technology, we want to make it meaningful for providers who have limited time and resources to provide care for a growing patient population. Over 75% of our engagement comes from a mobile device, iOS and Android. Simply by making hospital protocols accessible from mobile phones we’ve been able to double engagement and compliance. We strongly believe that mobile platforms are the future of how information is accessed, shared, and applied in the clinical setting.
Medgadget: How do you see yourself compared to physician social networks or communities, such as Doximity and QuantiaMD?
Patel: Physicians are always short on time and what gets there attention is when you can save them time or help them provide better care for their patients. A few social networks have been able to get a lot of physicians to signup but to our knowledge have not released much data on engagement metrics and their impact on clinical care. At Docphin, we take a different approach. Immediately upon using the platform providers save time by having all their resources in one place with one tap access to full text PDFs. We then leverage that engagement to build discussions based on content that can impact clinical care. For example, our platform is used to power journal club at many institutions. We’ve also seen thousands of discussions focused on how to improve health care quality and increase patient safety. We believe that our high engagement comes because we are started with high yield evidence-based content first and then built the social network around a clinical interactions.
Medgadget: What does the future hold for Docphin?
Patel: Our focus will be to continue iterating our platform and adding features that save providers time and help them take better care of their patients. We’ll be focusing on expanding our reach in 2014 by increasing mobile capabilities, releasing our API to the public, and growing the institutions utilizing our hospital platform.
Medgadget: How did you all come up with the name, “Docphin”?
Patel: Docphin stands for what we set out to build: a doctor’s personalized health information network. To practice we need guidelines and evidence based medicine from medical journals and national organizations as well as regional recommendations from within the health system. Our goal was for doctors to be able to access that information quickly when they need it most by using Docphin.