It should come as no surprise that colleagues are the top source of medical information for practicing physicians—trusted above all other sources. Considering the influence of colleagues in the physical realm, cyber communities are quickly rising as one of the prominent go-to sources for all things professional. Stated simply, online social networking expands a physician’s circle of peers.
Research supports the trend. According to a 2013 survey released by Kantar, 42% of physicians report using professional online networks (e.g., Physician Connect, Sermo) for professional purposes vs. 30% for general online social sites (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn).
Doximity, an online network dubbed the “LinkedIn for Physicians,” is gaining popularity among U.S. prescribers as a closed-loop professional network. With Doximity, medical professionals can quickly connect with colleagues nationwide to collaborate on patient treatment, identify appropriate experts for patient referrals, or seek new professional opportunities.
Doximity is the brainchild of Jeff Tangney, co-founder of Epocrates. Launched in March 2011, the network secured 30,000 users within nine months, representing approximately 5% of total licensed physicians operating in the U.S.
Today there are currently 130,000 physicians—representing 20%+ of U.S. physicians—actively using the network, and growth remains positive.
The platform is both an active network and database, allowing users access to 700,000 prebuilt U.S. public physician profiles. Doximity prepopulates its directory with practice information from the National Provider Identifier, Medicare and other HHS databases. Physicians who want to access and update their profiles must complete a three-step identity verification process. Once on board, they can search Doximity members by clinical interests, hospital affiliation, specialty, languages spoken, insurance accepted, and PubMed citations, among other criteria. They can also post challenging cases via the physician-only “iRounds” discussion platform, receive and send HIPAA-secure messages and images, exchange private phone lists, and share numbers for their back lines and pagers.
Example screenshot: Online CV (profile), inbox and search feature:
Online CVs include professional and clinical information such as training, work history, faculty appointments, publications, trial work, clinical interests and other credentials.
MARKET LANDSCAPE—AN ACTIVE NETWORK
For Doximity, members who access the platform once in 180 days are classified as active. In general, 40% are monthly active users; 16% are weekly active users. For most markets, the network boasts 20% to 25% of the universe in terms of active users.
There are currently several large and unique online networks for medical professionals.
In the 2012 Taking the Pulse® survey, 16% of physicians reported using Doximity in the prior three months. Use drops significantly after Doximity to <5% for other professional communities.
According to Compete Website Analytics, actual Doximity site traffic shows double-digit growth this year.
Just like consumers, each physician is unique and will select his or her professional network(s) based on individual preferences. There are a number of factors that physicians will consider when seeking to join a community.
All four leading medical social platforms verify physician credentials, but when it comes to anonymity, there are some stark differences. The rise in popularity of Doximity and QuantiaMD may be attributed to unique features and benefits, but one could also argue that by allowing users to remain anonymous, Sermo conversations lack bona fides—the credibility of knowing who is offering opinions.
Based on the growth of these platforms, it can be argued that physicians are growing more comfortable offering opinions in a social realm. This contrasts sharply with the ongoing perception that threat of malpractice and privacy concerns will keep medical professionals off online communities.
Because relevance is also a driver for use, more and more specialty and therapeutically focused communities are emerging. For example, the American College of Gastroenterology launched a community in 2009 available by College invite only. The community, ACG GI Circle, is hosted by Within3 and boasts over 3,900 members.
Doximity offers industry the opportunity to message members via the platform, syndicate brand assets (slide decks, case studies, articles, etc.) or pose questions for discussion.
Understanding that a core appeal of the platform is to foster connections, the network infrastructure also allows professional customers the ability to connect with a sales representative.
A key benefit of partnering with Doximity is the ability to easily segment a target audience by geographic, demographic, socioeconomic, and most importantly, psychographic (clinical interest, trial work, coauthored articles) criteria. Target list matching is also available.
Example screenshot: DocNews Alert sponsored message:
Reach out to your Ogilvy CommonHealth Medical Media account manager today to find out more about partnership opportunities with Doximity or other relevant social communities for HCPs.
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