Oct 22 2014 by Don Lawrence

Nashville Business Journal: The doctors' social network - Health IT startup acts like Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn for clinicians

Staff Reporter- Nashville Business Journal
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When Don Lawrence  launched SurgiChart nearly four years ago, he designed it as an extensive respository for surgeons to upload and store information on every surgery they performed, allowing them to quickly access and share that information with colleagues, patients and others.

But, Lawrence said, while the app grew to a few thousand users following its launch, the company soon discovered that those users “weren’t using it any way that we designed it.”

What they were using, however, was the image-sharing option, Lawrence said. That observation spurred SurgiChart’s pivot and Lawrence’s new app, which launched in public beta just last week: eRounds. The app, available initially for Apple products exclusively, offers physicians the opportunity to share photos of cases they have questions about, or ones where they’re particularly impressed with their own work, and facilitate discussion with other physicians in their network about those cases.

eRounds sounds somewhat like Figure 1, a Canadian internist’s creation  that bills itself as “Instagram for Doctors.” That’s not exactly how Lawrence would describe his app, though. He said it’s more like “if Instagram and LinkedIn had a baby — and then that baby went to medical school.” Adding another social network in for good measure, the layout of the app’s communities has the look and feel of Pinterest board.

Every doctor who uses the app is a member of the public community, and they can then choose to join other more curated, narrow networks. Doctors can also choose to share a case with just one specific peer or with a smaller group, or keep it completely private. The app does not store any HIPAA-protect information, Lawrence said (doctors can scrub patient info off photos before they’re displayed), but maintains HIPAA-compliant procedures anyway.

eRounds is completely free for doctors and always will be, Lawrence said, since they’re the ones creating the content. In fact, he said, the company may eventually look to pay participating physicians.

The company does receive financial support from life sciences companies, Lawrence said, which want to create dedicated communities and otherwise seek out physician input and involvement. Lawrence declined to share eRounds early revenue figures, other than to say its in the low six figures and enough to allow the company to keep moving forward without raising money right now. But he’s headed to California this week for a conference where he may meet with some potential investors.

While eRounds is not an electronic health record, Lawrence said he sees the company filling a void left by EHR companies that offer “feature-rich” products without tools that doctors feel will best help them treat patients. Not being an EHR, Lawrence said, eRounds won’t help a hospital attain required meaningful use standards, but, he said, “We like to say we’re meaningfully useful.”