As a culture, we are getting ever-more accustomed to using social networks as our primary hubs for all information, and that trend is leading to the rise of yet more services constructed like social networks to improve accessibility: one of the latest in that line is DoctorsElite, a new site aimed at linking up patients, general physicians and specialists through a social network framework to make it easier for people to find specialists in certain fields when they need them.
Started by a group of physicians working with other medical advisors and technology experts, DoctorsElite is entering the market bootstrapped and with a database of some 500,000 doctors and centers for advanced treatment in the U.S. — and with some strong firsthand experience of why the founders think this service fills a gap in the market.
What DoctorsElite is trying to do differently is that it is focused on being first and foremost a directory for doctors in specific fields — with that half-million strong database a good start. The database can be searched by diagnosis, treatment and speciality and then, beyond that, subspeciality, and is free to use by patients and their families. Patients also have a secure area where they can store their own medical records to keep them in a centralized place — accessibile by themselves as well as their doctors.
DoctorsElite is also offering a secure section where doctors can communicate with each other to find specialty care for their patients and advice from other doctors — which can be done in open forums or through direct messaging. Doctors and patients have free access to their own profiles, with additional services coming with fees.
As with many startup ideas, DoctorsElite came out of a direct need that the founders themselves experienced firsthand. One of them, a Gulfport, Mississippi-based interventional cardiologist called Cyril V.K. Bethala, had been working in a hospital that was closed down during Hurricane Katrina — not before Bethala himself got stranded in the hospital for days during the peak of the Katrina crisis.
With patients and doctors fleeing the area, it became impossible to track medical histories for millions of patients and for those patients to connect with doctors. Bethala wanted to create a system that could bypass crises like this in the future — and go one better by improving communication in the medical industry, all of the time.
“Every area of the country experiences natural disasters or other events that make connecting doctors and patients a challenge,” he said in a statement. “And even under normal circumstances, it can be difficult for patients and doctors to locate the right specialty care, particularly for uncommon or rare diagnosis.”
All too true, but whether that will be enough to propel DoctorsElite forward as a company remains to be seen: It’s joining a space more crowded than an ER on a Friday night: other sites offering social networks for patients and doctors include Sermo, Doximity, CareZone and HealthTap — the latter picking up $11.5 million from Eric Schmidt’s Tomorrow Ventures and the Mayfield Fund, among others, last December. Then on the more general medical portal front, there are more established sites like WebMD.