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What does a social network for doctors look like?

How to get a doctor’s attention
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

In the longest-running television serial, Grey’s Anatomy, doctors battle to diagnose mysterious cases and come up with magical solutions just in the nick of time. It is a time-tested formula and like horror films, medical mysteries are favoured on-screen and dreaded in real life. The Coronavirus, Covid 19 rapidly spreading across the world right now is throwing markets, business and political fortunes into turmoil. Empty streets from imagined film scenes of the apocalypse have come tragically true in real life. Now, it is a question of how quickly virus strains can be detected and contained before they wreck the world’s economy.

The path to control an outbreak starts with a daily practice that begins at the patient’s bedside. Senior doctors do the rounds across hospital wards, followed by assistants and groups of interns. They discuss cases, figure out if there is anything out of the ordinary and call for specialist help when required. An excessive number of patients being admitted with similar symptoms or taking turns for the worse will trigger alarms in the wards first. Then, in a carefully choreographed set of moves, the chain of command is notified to prevent widespread panic and disruption. In the past, SARS, MERS, Ebola and Nipah outbreaks have been contained before they caused mayhem on a global scale.  

Expanding Doctor rounds

The practice and learning from doctors’ rounds – expanded
Photo by Luis Melendez on Unsplash

The practice has endured for decades because it is one of the best practical teaching methods available. Interns get to see how diagnoses are arrived at, what they need to look for and how treatments are managed. But there is a significant downside. The knowledge and experience are confined to the hospitals where the doctors’ practice and the teams within. This creates pockets of excellence but does not help to spread the learning. The level of care is largely dependent on the competence and the leadership of senior doctors – which does not contribute to overall progress.

The other problem is that well-documented cases end up in renowned journals – and are not accessible to doctors in general because of the high costs involved. As the founder of Daily Rounds, Dr. Deepu Sebin mentions in an interview with YourStory – the doctor has to write the case history, submit it for publication and if the case is accepted, he could end up paying as much as $200 to read his own case in the publication! It’s ironic that a system meant to spread knowledge collectively has become a bottleneck.

Daily Rounds – made for the medical community

The world doctors live in
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Medicine is a field in which knowledge constantly evolves. Doctors learn from others by discussing cases and treatments. The smart insight of Daily Rounds is to take the core idea from daily rounds at hospitals and transform it with technology to make it accessible to doctors anywhere in the world. Patient confidentiality is protected by stripping out all identifying factors. A team of editors at Daily Rounds curate the cases and send them out on a daily basis through the app for doctors to learn, review, comment and get feedback. 

Growing in about 4 years, from 2015-2019 to a network of nearly 500,000 doctors has been a major achievement. The value provided to practicing doctors was the driving force behind the growth. By creating a focused community for learning, Daily Rounds is enhancing access and expanding the knowledge base of current practices in medicine. And by making this aspect free, Daily Rounds is ensuring that the community benefits as a whole and the rippling effects benefit patients over the long-term. It may not be in the interest of journals who believe that peer-reviewed journals maintain a high standard but it provides a much-needed alternative for doctors to review and learn what they are interested in wherever they have the time

Impacting the Pharmaceutical industry

The perfect interface between pharma and doctors
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

 By creating a network of doctors, the pharmaceutical industry gets ready access to its core prescribing market. Until now, an inefficient system of medical representatives made the rounds of at doctor’s clinics and hospitals. After long waits, they got a couple of minutes to explain their offerings and request doctors to keep the medications in mind when prescribing for patients. On average, they would end up meeting a doctor once a month. Hardly the best way to make the product range memorable. And the cost of a single sales visit varied from Rs. 700 – Rs. 1000. ($10-15) 

As detailed by a report in The Economic TimesBengaluru-based DailyRounds, a social network for doctors that counts GE Healthcare and Pfizer among its pharmaceutical clients, follows a studio approach “to serve different requirements of the pharma industry”, said cofounder Deepu Sebin, a doctor.

Accel Partners-backed DailyRounds maintains records of clinical cases and drugs and also provides data insights to the pharma industry. While knowing information about a doctor’s requirements through their case studies and group discussions, provides potential leads for drug makers, Sebin said the information also helps medical representatives improve and modify their sales pitches to doctors. According to reports, over $20 billion will be spent on doctor outreach in India by 2020, signaling an increase in demand for such platforms

Adding medical qualifications to the mix

Dr. Deepu Sebin speaks to YourStory

Continuing Medical Education (CME) for several disciplines is another part of the business mix for Daily Rounds – and doctors can prepare through the various cases that are accessible to them on the app. This has become a significant source of revenue for Daily Rounds and part of the objective that keeps doctors up to date and helps them advance both – their qualifications and knowledge. 

As doctors spend more time on the app on a regular basis, the opportunities to engage increase. It may look like a niche but it is a huge base to build towards, even with the specific focus it has on individual doctors. Several routes to building a network of doctors have been tried in the past. Practo is a prominent example where patients could find doctors easily and set up appointments with them – almost like a rating scale. But Daily Rounds has the benefit of being thought through by a team of doctors who solved problems that they encountered during practice.

With a significant presence on Facebook with nearly 200,000 followers, the company has understood that the core brand will evolve from the depth and breadth of engagement on the network. It’s like Daily Rounds is LinkedIn for doctors – helping them develop their professional careers by consulting and engaging with other doctors in the field remotely – at a time and place of their choosing. 

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Author short bio: I head Ideascape, an agency that I started in 2004. I have over 35 years of experience building brands in businesses as diverse as payroll services, software, cycles, HR services, hospitals, hospitality and project management.

We’re a boutique creative agency but we provide the full range of branding services in partnership with several associates in digital marketing, web development, and event management. This blog is a collection of my experiences and my point of view on marketing and advertising

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