By Chris Hernandez
A group of college guys came up with an idea to impact the world of medicine with the use of mobile technology, while also changing the way people interact with medical contact in a social way. Though this sounds like the premise of the sequel to the Social Network or a really great episode of Grey’s Anatomy, this was the storyline for former University of Michigan students Mitesh Patel, Sachin Nanavati and Derek Juang.
Sitting inside of an office in New York’s coworking space, WeWork, Mitesh recounted the problem they hoped to solve that would eventually lead to the development of Docphin, a free platform that personalizes medical news and research. “Medical research was locked up and really hard to access,” he said. “Once you found an article you wanted, it would take you five, six, seven steps to get the information you wanted. There wasn’t just one place you could go to seamlessly access the information you needed when you needed it most.”
Mitesh, who has been a business development consultant for 10 healthcare start ups and has spent 10 active years in the clinical sector, described the inefficiency that would come from old ways of attempting to access medical research before Docphin. He remembered having stacks of journals which he’d have to sift through monthly. Spending anywhere between 20 minutes to five hours, he was disappointed when he’d find only one article or none at all dealing with the issue he was researching. Though hospitals would give him access to many medical journals, there were still titles he’d have to purchase himself.
Inside this narrative, Sachin finds the many problems they sought to solve. “When we thought about solving the problem, it wasn’t only to unlock it and make it easier to access,” Sachin said. “But, it was recognizing that if we were to solve the problem, it would have a tremendous impact on healthcare and as it relates to patients and quality of care and reducing costs.”
Mitesh also believed the world was asking for a new way to access information. “Smartphones have changed the way we view content. Everyone has a phone,” he said. “Whether it is medical research published in a top journal, or new clinical guidelines. To be able to have that at the touch of your fingers is a dramatic change from before.”
Sachin agreed. “We have taken a consumer focused approach that makes sense for how our consumer lives his or her daily life, which is on the go.”
Mobile technology has also provided a much needed social component to medical research, opening dialogue between physicians and other users as they interact with the content. Docphin is more than a place to access information; it is a network. The company’s name comes from the idea that it is a doctor’s personalized health information network. “We built a whole social layer, so you can see what articles are trending right now. You know if there is a hot article in your field,” Mitesh said. “We’ve built niche communities that want to collaborate as they read.”
Sachin, Mitesh, and Derek began developing Docphin in 2010. Like most start ups, Docphin took a while to get off the ground. Mitesh sites 2011 as the year it began to take off. That year, the three men interviewed over 100 physicians regarding the research tools they were currently using. Jon Wear, who was the lead developer of UPENN’s health system, was brought on board at this time to build a beta site that launched in November of that year.
After being covered by TechCrunch on its launch date, Docphin received an influx of appreciation. In May 2012, it was available at three institutions. By September 2012, it was available at 25 institutions with a waiting list of 50. To keep up with the many interested institutions, Docphin expanded its development team and is now available at over 100 hospitals in the country.
This past March, Docphin was a finalist in the 2013 SXSW Accelerator competition. The Accelerator honors advancements in social media, mobile applications, web entertainment, and health technologies. This year, over 500 startups from around the world applied for the Accelerator. “One thing we liked about SXSW was being in that environment with a group of people passionate about changing the way the world works. Not only in healthcare but across all fields,” Mitesh said.
Being one of eight finalists in the health technologies was exciting for the men behind Docphin as well as their team. “The energy of that conference is pretty incredible. We have been to a bunch,” Sachin said. “It was really important for us to get team to rally around competition and getting everyone together is a pretty important juncture for the company.”
[author ]Lovingly written by the editorial team at Fueled, NYC’s premier iPhone app design agency. [/author]