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jeff tangney healthbeatSAN FRANCISCO — The startup Doximity is commonly referred to as a “Facebook for doctors.” Not anymore. It’s now moving in a new direction: medical education.

The new model came about in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic, the nonprofit academic medical center. Cleveland Clinic has agreed to offer credit to practicing physicians who use Doximity to learn on the job.

The goal is to move continuing medical education, known as “CME,” to an online space so that it’s not confined to auditoriums and conference halls.

“Doctors spend about 40 hours a year to get accredited and 90 percent of physician education happens offline,” said Doximity CEO Jeff Tangney said. “This is time spent away from practice, not to mention administrative time needed to track the courses they’ve completed. It’s a pain. This platform will make it easier for doctors to track all these credits and automatically keep them up-to-date.”


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CME refers to the practice of physicians learning about new areas of the field, and staying on top of the latest research. In the past, doctors have needed to travel to a remote auditorium; now they can access cutting-edge research from a smartphone device.

The news was announced today onstage at VentureBeat’s HealthBeat conference. Prior to founding Doximity to cater to the next generation of tech-savvy physicians, Tangney was the founder of Epocrates, a Bay Area company that develops mobile health applications.

Tangney said the result will be that doctors can save “precious time and reduce the burden of paperwork.” In addition, Doximity will help physicians track everything they’ve learned.

Doximity’s new service offers relevant medical research to its community of registered physicians — about 170,000 and growing. The company’s existing suite of secure HIPPA-compliant collaboration tools will enable doctors to share and discuss cases.

San Mateo, Calif.-based Doximity is one of the fastest growing digital health startups; it recently closed a $17 million series B round led by Morgenthaler Ventures. During a fireside chat with Rebecca Lynn, a partner at Morgenthaler Ventures, Tangey said that doctors “get a bad rap” when it comes to technology, but they were the first adopters of pagers and Palm Pilots. Doctors are busy and on-the-go, and they need solutions that fit into their workflow.

“Our goal is to make medical communication effortless, as easy as it is for the rest of us to shoot an email or text to a friend,” Tangney said. “We’ve gone a great job of digitizing health information, but not of making it easy to access. We can take the technology the teenagers have in the waiting room and give it to the physicians and specialists seeing them in the exam room.”

Twenty-four percent of physicians in the U.S. use Doximity, and the system sends 20,000 secure messages a day. Tangney said that the secure 1-to-1 messaging has “really blossomed” because it saves doctors time by giving them the information they need, when they need it. The new CME platform has a similar goal. Ultimately, the more time doctors save on the “other stuff,” the more bandwidth they have for patients.

When asked a question from an audience member about making Doximity available for nurse practitioners, Tangney said that it is something they are considering. Nurse practitioners, like doctors, also need more effective methods to communicate with each other about patients. Tangney also teased another major partnership down the road.

Photo credit: Michael O’Donnell/VentureBeat 

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