MBA Startup: Doximity

What would you do if your business gained 500,000 members in just four years? Probably drop your jaw in amazement and disbelief. Well, that rapid growth was a reality for Doximity, America’s largest social networking service for U.S. clinicians. In just a few years, more than 60 percent of U.S. doctors became verified members of Doximity—that’s more members than the American Medical Association and more users than Epic.

It’s an impressive resumé for any new startup. Founded in 2011 by Nate Gross (an MBA grad from Harvard Business School) and Jeff Tangney (an MBA graduate from Stanford Graduate School of Business), Doximity offers doctors a an alternative platform to LinkedIn that is compliant with the was the nation’s first Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and it’s been growing like crazy.

Inside Doximity

If you’re not a doctor, you’ve probably never heard of Doximity—an online communication and learning platform for doctors—and that’s okay. Doximity is made just for physicians as a way to share casework, find referrals and communicate online.

Doximity is a whole care coordination platform that connects doctors, physicians and nurses around the country so that the entire medical sector works better. There are four distinct features that make up Doximity:

  1. Healthcare Directory: The healthcare directory helps doctors search, find and reach any other healthcare provider instantly.
  2. CME/CE: Doctors can earn medical education credits through the platform.
  3. Fax Machine: Some hospitals, pharmacies and offices can’t fulfill a prescription or offer a service without a referral fax. Doximity lets users send faxes online.
  4. Job & Salary Comparison: Using Doximity, doctors can compare salaries and research jobs around the United States to negotiate the best position. To date, doctors have used Doximity to research 215,000 job opportunities.

In addition to offering these simple but valuable tools, Doximity is also committed to a mobile-first ideology and is available for both iOS and Android phones. This is based on the understanding that doctors are mobile by nature—indeed, they conduct 70 percent of their activity on mobile devices.

Doximity’s Funding

Doximity didn’t just grow on its own. The company received some significant funding to get where it is.

  • In March 2011, Doximity received $10.8 million in venture capital funding from Emergence Capital Partners and Interwest Partners.
  • In September 2012, it received another $17 million from Morgenthaler Ventures.
  • Then, in April 2014, Doximity raised $54 million through Draper Fisher Jurvetson and the mutual fund company T. Rowe Price.

Why Is Doximity Successful?

Communication in healthcare has long been behind the times. For example, many hospitals and clinicians still have to fax medical records. And, according to recent statistics, only one-third of faxed medical records make it to their end destination. The reality is that medical mistakes don’t just cost money; they cost lives. Between 210,000 to 440,000 patients die from preventable harm in hospitals each year, but Doximity is working to change that.

Doximity is unique in that it fills a hole in the medical industry. Doximity serves doctors not only as a professional network and profile page, but also as a way to find specialists for patients, a Rolodex, a CME tool, a news portal, an email and text service and a virtual lounge. And its value hinges around the fact that the network is just for doctors.

While doctors can use LinkedIn and Facebook for social networking, Doximity offers a different experience. It conforms to HIPAA privacy laws so that doctors can communicate on special forums, receive research alerts and gain medical education credits safely and efficiently.

Doximity also understands the challenges that doctors face, because the company listens to and implements physician feedback. There are five doctors on staff, plus advisory boards, monthly and annual physician meetings and more. All of this information goes into creating a product that meets physicians’ needs.

“We seek a lot of live feedback, too—an annual weekend with doctors, monthly dinners and such,” Doximity CEO Tangney told Tech Crunch. “Some of our best ideas have come from just listening to doctors talk over dinner. Some of our best ideas—like continuing medical education credits, referral templates, efax, hospital ranking surveys and online schedules—have come from these sessions.”

Another example is secure email. Under HIPAA laws, doctors are banned from using email, but Doximity makes it possible. “I’d say the main reason we’ve grown so fast is secure email,” Tangney said. “I can’t imagine doing my job without email, but, in fact, that’s what we ask every U.S. doctor to do. It’s a little crazy when you think about it.”

What’s Next for Doximity?

There’s no doubt that Doximity’s network will continue to grow, especially since it is so easy for doctors to sign up. Every physician in the United States already has a profile on Doximity; doctors just need to go online to claim their own in a simple three-step verification process.

“When you are trying to grow any network, you benefit from having as many users as possible as early as possible,” Gross told The Boss Magazine. “There’s no point in having a network for doctors if you can only reach five percent of those in the field. So we created the entire network in advance.”

For now, though, Doximity’s attention is solely focused on the U.S. market. “More startups die of ingestion than starvation,” explained Grow. “This was a recipe of timing, vision and getting the people right. We’re going to maintain the focus on these three components to continue to set the precedence for healthcare communication going forward.”

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About the Author

Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

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