Some call Doximity a LinkedIn for doctors. And, like LinkedIn, Doximity has continually evolved over the years providing more and more services that they hope will make their platform indispensable to their target audience. The company’s latest addition is an integrated telehealth application, Dialer Video, which makes it easy for doctors to connect with their patients. Their timing couldn’t be better.
Prior to the pandemic, growth of telehealth was slow
Telehealth has been around for decades but various factors held back its growth, including
- reimbursement models that were inadequate
- physician state-by-state licensing requirements
- HIPAA privacy and security regulations
- patient lack of interest and lack of demand
- lack of physician training and experience with the technology
But, the pandemic has changed all of that. Suddenly, people have had to switch from in-person events to virtual events. Conferences and concerts were canceled one after the other. And birthday parties, weddings, and happy hours went online – successfully. So did medical office visits.
Telehealth use is exploding because of the pandemic
According to a recent report by McKinsey, COVID-19 has massively accelerated the use of telehealth. Before the pandemic about 11% of Americans used telehealth. Now, almost half are replacing office visits with virtual ones.
And, consumers are liking what they are getting according to surveys referenced in the McKinsey report:
- 74% report high satisfaction
- 76% indicated that they were highly or moderately likely to use telehealth going forward
Doctors are getting on board too:
- 57% have more favorable views of telehealth
- 64% are more comfortable using it
Further, regulations around the use of telehealth have been relaxed – at least for now. This includes temporarily removing requirements to comply with HIPAA regulations.
Further, reimbursement has improved. For the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, Medicare will reimburse telehealth visits at the same rate as in-person visits. Further, many but not all states have parity laws requiring the same thing from private payers.
All of this suggests that Doximity’s timing to roll out their new telehealth application couldn’t be better. This applies not only to healthcare delivery during the COVID-19 crisis but also for the post-pandemic of the future. As, Peter Alperin, MD, Vice President at of Product at Doximity noted,
“The environment of the COVID_19 pandemic has driven patients and doctors to fully embrace telemedicine. Doximity believes this is a structural shift in the way care will be delivered.”
He goes on to say,
“Already, we are seeing the benefits of telemedicine. For hospitals, telemedicine increases efficiency and reduces wait-times for in-person patient visits. For physicians, it offers more flexibility and allows them to care for more patients in one day. And for patients, telemedicine makes it more convenient to communicate with their physician and stay healthy. We believe telemedicine is here to stay.”
The Doximity Dialer Video
Doximity’s telehealth application feature, Dialer Video, is the company’s first foray into telemedicine. It is designed to be used via the Doximity app on a smartphone – either iOS or Android.
Doximity estimates that over 70% of US doctors have signed up as members on the network. And, although not all are active, many will have already downloaded the app. So all they need to do before using Dialer Video is to make sure they have the latest version of the Doximity app.
When the app is open, the doctor simply enters the patient’s mobile number and then touches the big green button labeled “video call.” This sends a text message to the patient inviting them to join the call. As soon as they accept, the doctor and patient are connected via video and the televisit begins. It’s that simple.
According to Joel Davis, senior vice president and head of product at Doximity, “Doctors on the front lines asked us for a secure and reliable telemedicine tool, and we moved quickly to fulfill that need.”
Cool features that differentiate Dialer from other telehealth platforms
There are some great features to Dialer Video that differentiate it from some of the other platforms being used, such as Zoom or Doxy.me:
- First of all, Dialer Video is HIPAA compliant. Although that is not required right now because it has been waived because of the pandemic. It is possible, however, once the pandemic is over the HIPAA regulations will be instituted. Regulations aside, however, protecting your patients’ personal health information (PHI) is a good practice and the right thing to do.
- Once you have added your office number(s) to your Doximity platform, you can choose to have that number be the one that the patient sees when they get your invitation to join the call. There are two benefits to this. First of all, your regular patients will see a number they recognize. And second, they will not see your private mobile number.
- You can send the patient a “no-reply text” to provide them with additional information that does not require a response from them. For example, you can let them know that you have left a voice mail. Although checking voice mail used to be an essential activity, many people are communicating in other ways, such as text or What’s App. The voice mail may go unchecked for days without a prompt to check it.
- There is also an option to call your patient and leave a voice mail without ringing their phone. The call goes directly to voice mail thus avoiding a conversation if you don’t have time to chat.
- Finally, integration with Epic allows authorized care team members to initiate calls to patients seamlessly from within Epic’s mobile electronic health record app.
Some caveats I learned from testing the app
I decided to test the app by asking some of my mostly retired doctor friends to try it out. I thought I could test how intuitive it was by not providing them with any instructions besides telling them to open it in their Doximity apps.
They, in turn, decided to use the app to try it out on their doctor friends. All of the people they tried to call already had the Doximity app on their phones. Instead of connecting as a video call, they connected as a doctor to doctor conversation.
It turns out the app does not work properly if your patients have the Doximity app on their phone. So, if you are the kind of doctor whose patients are mostly other doctors, you will have to use an alternative approach.
Once I found someone without the Doximity app to try it out on, I discovered that the Dialer was super-easy to use. And, all of the functions, worked as billed.
Want to see how it works? Here are links to videos that show you from the doctor’s point of view and from the patient’s perspective. Feel free to share.
The bottom line
The Doximity Dialer Video is a great addition to the telehealth armamentarium. It gives doctors an easy way to add telehealth visits to their practice. Further, it is very easy for patients because they don’t need to do anything but answer their phones in order to have a virtual visit with their own doctor. What could be better?
I am firmly convinced that telehealth is here to stay. After all, why would anyone want to go back to the old way of seeing your doctor if you didn’t have to? You know what I mean: taking a day off of work to drive to a doctor’s appointment, search for parking, wait in the waiting room with sick people only to see your doctor’s back for 15 minutes. That’s my opinion anyway, what’s yours?
Also, we would love to hear from you about your experience with the Doximity Dialer or any other telehealth platform that you are using.
Financial disclosure: TDWI did not receive compensation for the publication of this story.