Popular social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can be effective care tools between providers and patients. The openness of these sites may be empowering to a certain extent, but sharing on these sites can be risky because of privacy and security concerns. Among providers themselves, a specialized, vertical social network can offer a more secure way of collaborating and sharing resources with peers.
“Even though the doctors have good intentions and are doing that to get advice, they shouldn’t be doing it on Facebook,” Fadi A. Muhsen, founder and managing partner of Doxunity, recently told Zawya. “Instead, they should be doing it on more secure platforms for bona fide health professionals.”
Dubai-based Doxunity is an online platform exclusively for doctors in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The site allows licensed and practicing medical professionals to communicate with each other and share best practices on patient treatments. The site uses a two-tier verification system in vetting members, including having a practitioner’s license verified by the relevant healthcare authority in the region or country.
“We have created a kind of a ‘virtual doctors lounge’ that enables doctors to create groups for certain discussions,” said Muhsen, an alumnus of Virginia Commonwealth University. “They can create a public group where everyone can join and collaborate or they can make it a private group which can only be accessed by invite or they can make a group focusing on a particular specialty such as cardiology.”
Before starting Doxunity, Muhsen and co-founder Umair Awan had noticed that doctors in other countries like the United States, Japan, China and the United Kingdom all had exclusive communities where doctors meet and collaborate. They wished to replicate this in the Middle East and soon moved to Dubai to initiate their startup.
“We wanted to figure out what the Middle East needed. There was a lot of money but the healthcare industry had been completely ignored,” Muhsen told Wamda. “The Arab region is really divided: you have the GCC, the Levant. If doctors are united in the MENA, they can produce a better output for their patients.”
The Doxunity online platform currently offers members the following: a professional profile, messaging and collaboration features, a newsfeed tailored per specialty, and a virtual rolodex or directory of practitioners throughout the MENA region. Members can use the site a la Facebook, liking posts or sharing articles.
“Having a network of physicians that are practicing in the MENA region all in one place is a vital tool to have,” Dr. Abdurrahman Mahmoud, an endocrinologist who practices in Saudi Arabia and Jordan, said in a separate interview with Zawya. “Time and communication are valuable assets in medicine. With Doxunity's efficient yet detailed search feature, doctors don't have to wait for a prolonged period of time for a response from a fellow medical professional.”
Connecting doctors in the MENA region comes at a critical juncture, as the region is poised to double its population in the next decade. The region’s healthcare industry, with its medical tourism aspirations, will need to keep pace with the explosive growth, and an online network for medical practitioners is an important component.
Doxunity sounds and functions similarly to the U.S. physician network Doximity. The site features messaging, discussion groups, its TalentFinder recruiting tool and continuing medical education (CME) services.
“Healthcare social networks also address the industry's privacy and security mandates,” according to Information Week, who notes that Facebook and other social networking sites’ data mining practices have made doctors and patients alike wary of sharing information. “By sharing data on specialized sites ‒ especially those that plainly detail their security and privacy policies ‒ healthcare professionals and other users can feel safer about expressing their thoughts.”
Within its mission and vision, Doxunity has big plans to make a big impact. As the company's Director, Krishna Patel, told nuviun:
“Doxunity was created so we could bring together doctors across the region. They can network, re-educate, participate in discussions. and much more. We believe that Doxunity has a great deal of potential to help benefit healthcare and patient care here. With the UAE in particular being a hub for healthcare tourism, Doxunity will help bring all these doctors together.”
Jof Enriquez is a registered nurse, medical writer and healthcare journalist. You can follow him on Twitter @jofenriq.