David Williams: This is David Williams, co founder of MedPharma Partners and author of theHealth Business Blog. I spoke recently with Dr. Jason Bhan, co founder of Ozmosis, a physician only social networking site whose motto is “Diffusing knowledge across the Internet.” We spoke about how physicians are using Ozmosis, differences between Ozmosis and other sites like Sermo, and the company’s somewhat unusual business model.
Jason, thanks for joining me today.
Dr. Jason Bhan: I appreciate the opportunity, David.
We got together and wanted to create a set of tools that will allow us to work together, to manage information, to share ideas, and to collaborate while tackling tough issues. In essence, we wanted to create an environment in which we really learn best, which is from each other. This is, in fact, how we’re trained as physicians. It’s the interactivity of the “See one, do one, teach one” philosophy that we lose fairly rapidly as we move from residency into reality.
Firstly, we verify the identity of each and every member before they’re permitted access to the site. This is done through a proprietary solution we’ve developed; it’s rigorous and every member goes through it. So, every member who’s been through it knows that every member before and after them is going to get through it or has been through it. There’s a level of confidence that our members have that they’re operating in a community of their peers.
Secondly, Ozmosis is not an anonymous community. Members can very quickly recognize and interact with their colleagues anywhere on the site and rely on the information that’s being obtained. It’s a combination of knowing who you’re getting your information from and what your relationship is to that information source.
The other differentiator from a number of other sites is what we call our knowledge exchange. Our knowledge exchange takes the individual insights of physicians and transforms them into trusted knowledge nuggets for our members. We provide physicians a place where they can turn for trusted, reliable clinical practice management and health policy information.
We’ve done this by building from the ground up a solution that fits the physician rather than trying to wedge a physician into a box. By using simple tools to bookmark, post content –whether it’s journal abstracts, medical cases, videos, podcasts, blog entries, anything from anywhere on the Web–, the community then collectively evaluates it, discusses it, and rates it, and to the benefit of everybody. This allows the best and most timely information to just bubble up to the top.
Initially, there were some occasional hesitations among physicians to post certain types of cases or questions. It had to do more with the concern that the specifics of the case were such that the individual that they were presenting could potentially be identified by associating the details of the case with the physician’s name. So, based on the user feedback, we actually do allow some cases and questions to be submitted anonymously if they desire. We found it’s a pretty rare situation; it’s not a commonly used tool.
We will just recommend phenylephrine or Sudafed, whichever the patient prefers to use for the symptoms that they were having. What ended up happening on the site was a relatively in depth literature review and experiential accounts that compared the two. What we found was that literature and experience sort of meshed together and one tended to be better than the other, both by evidence and experience.
We’ve seen some excellent clinical cases from managing simple trauma in the office setting, where a physician might have had to make a number of phone calls or page a number of other physicians after hours to try and answer something. By posting it on Ozmosis, they got the answer in a more timely manner and a broader variety of answers as well and options.
Then there are some incredibly complex patient cases that are presented. Some that had to do with patients in hospital and what kind of medications they should be on for extremely complex cardiac patients. These are the kinds of patients and cases that you really don’t see in the textbooks, so it takes either an incredibly experienced physician and a number of others that they’re working with or a community to come up with the right answers.
As far as the usership of the site we’re seeing extremely high activity levels and our membership is growing very well. We’re continuing to focus on building the community based on quality. Our members understand that these are new ways to communicate and interact and that ultimately they’ll lead to improved patient care.
We are receiving a significant amount of interest for invitations from physicians across the country and when we open up Ozmosis to all U.S. licensed physicians later this summer we are expecting a really excellent growth rate.
A client would provide content, product literature, multimedia content. All that is displayed in a well identified and branded opt in area and the real value is in the peer-to-peer discussion that occurs around the product.
As a physician it’s more useful to learn about how my colleagues are using a product in day-to-day use and in their practice as opposed to from a sales rep. I’ll give you an example. One of our clients, PocketMed has a mobile charge capture solution and rather than relying entirely on a large sales force, they use the Ozmosis product discovery area to house discussions on tips, tricks, feedback and testimonials. Other physicians that want to learn more about the product have the opportunity to go and quickly get a sense of how other physicians are using it and if it’s the right one for them.