When the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations ordered physicians not to text patient orders because of security, privacy and reliability problems last November, several mobile health companies were already 10 steps ahead and developed secure messaging platforms that made physician text messaging HIPAA-compliant.
One of those was DocBookMD, which has just raised a $2.2 million seed fund from private investors to accelerate and expand adoption of its mobile app that allows physicians to exchange messages, calls, data and multimedia like pictures of X-rays or wounds, while maintaining patient privacy. The messages are encrypted, sent to DocBook’s specific server and shared only with another subscriber.
Through the app, doctors can also search local pharmacy and medical society directories to find other providers.
Tim Gueramy is an orthopedic surgeon who cofounded DocBook with his wife, physician Tracey Haas. Gueramy wants to make the app faster and more secure, and to build the company infrastructure to launch the product internationally.
The app is free to download and includes a free subscription to the messaging service for physicians who are members of local or national medical societies who have partnered with the company. Gueramy and Haas have crafted a revenue model powered by sponsorships from medical liability companies.
Studies have found communication errors to be a frequent cause of medical errors, so there’s a definite demand for more efficient communication among physicians. And the mobile medical app market was worth about $84.1 million in 2010, according to an estimate from Kalorama Information. Two issues the company might face are competition within the secure messaging space and slow physician adoption.
The founders say that what differentiates DocBook from other HIPAA-compliant messaging apps is that DocBook was built from the ground up for the physician. Competitors like Doc Halo and Tiger Text have just taken messaging and made it secure. DocBook also has a rich database of physicians and pharmacies generated from its medical society partners, and its messaging system includes features designed specifically for physicians.
For example, the app allows doctors to set a time frame in which they need a response to the message. If a message recipient is busy and doesn’t read the message before the deadline, the sender will be notified so that he or she can make a phone call or consult elsewhere. Haas said the app also will soon be able to connect with electronic medical records (EMRs).
Gueramy said DocBookMD is already being used by 6,000 members of 85 medical societies in 20 states, and that membership is growing 20 percent each month. “We’ve tailored the product to work how the phone already does,” Haas said. “So it’s not as scary as using an EMR.”
DocBookMD is available for the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android phones.