Elizabeth Hofheinz, M.P.H., M.Ed.
In the era of Hippocrates, knowledge was in the hands of a few. Now, with constant connectivity, educational information is available to all—perhaps a bit too much information. Putting a twist on the medical education landscape is the new website Doc Social, a secure platform for healthcare providers that enables them to connect, collaborate, and reap rewards for the content they create.
Doc Social CEO David Flickinger, MBA, told OSN, “This is truly a company whose purpose and mission were illuminated by the COVID restrictions. When my colleague, Alok Sharan M.D., and I had to cancel an educational symposium in April 2020, we quickly realized that no online platform existed where physicians could both share and consume quality educational content, and then discuss it within a collaborative framework.”
Into the void…
So, says Flickinger, they assembled a team to build a platform where healthcare professionals can connect with each other, partner with industry and other stakeholders, and ultimately accelerate the spread of best practices through the power of digital connection. That team grew to include additional founding members, Vinod Dasa, M.D., Director of Research in the orthopaedic surgery department of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, and Justin Martin, software engineer and Chief Technology Officer.
“We originally only had physician-to-physician connections in mind,” said Flickinger, “and that is indeed the core of the user base, with over 500 users, mostly orthopedic and spine surgeons, signing up within a couple weeks of launch. However, as we’ve seen growth and interest skyrocket, we’re also allowing other healthcare professionals, from PAs and RNs, to industry reps and payer executives, join and add value where appropriate across the site. I think there’s tremendous value in creating a platform where a diverse group of stakeholders can share meaningful connection and interaction.”
Dr. Dasa commented to OSN, “You might say that Doc Social is seeding the next generation of thought leaders as members are encouraged to create their own content and, if they choose, charge a monthly fee for their expertise. In this way, they are bringing others along and sharing the fruits of their educational journey.”
Alok Sharan, M.D., Director of Doc Social, states, “Users can simply register and consume any content on the site, such as lectures and podcasts, or enroll in a course. Members can also join ‘groups’ around shared interests. We’re seeing groups, like ‘Digital Health’ and ‘Robotic Joint Replacement’ become increasingly popular as many users desire a safer, more secure platform on which to discuss a variety of topics or even share complex surgical cases with peers. Finally, users can contribute interesting content like lectures, or courses and start a study group.”
Drilling down is encouraged…
“Even within a subspecialty,” says Dr. Dasa, “someone can join multiple groups, some of which are private and others that are public. We’ve found that people are looking to work with like-minded people in healthcare, something that is increasingly important as you get down to the level of a subspecialty. Those that are private come with a fee and may involve consulting on the part of the healthcare professional.”
“Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons is for healthcare professionals to monetize their content,” adds Flickinger. “If lectures or courses are popular enough, we’ll financially compensate those authors who contributed the work—a level of value sharing not available on any other platform. Finally, groups are a unique way for subject matter experts to further monetize their experience through easy in-app payments for things like expert advice, access to exclusive content, insight, etc.”
Laying the groundwork for healthcare influencers…
Justin Martin says, “We’ve only just launched and we’re already seeing users take advantage of features like group discussion boards, file sharing, and in-app video chat like in ways we never imagined. From a technology perspective, we build a tremendously powerful platform that is capable of everything from peer-to-peer payments for things like consulting services, to full-fledged course and webinar hosting. I not only expect user growth to accelerate exponentially, but I think we’ll see quality content contributors really set themselves apart as peer influencers within their respective specialties.”
“Doc Social is by, and for, healthcare professionals,” says Flickinger. “You’ll always see the platform prioritize user benefit over revenue generation or profits. Our goal here is to truly create a platform that can forever change the way healthcare professionals across the globe learn and collaborate in the pursuit of advancing healthcare beyond our silos, and into a new era of digital education and connection.”
Doc Social acknowledges the lifetime of learning that healthcare professionals carry with them. On this platform, physician researchers can, for example, tell the stories of their many hours in the lab. Then they can relay that knowledge to others. And, if they choose, they can monetize this knowledge.
Dr. Dasa: “Doc Social is a true digital home for all kinds of healthcare professionals.”