QuantiaMD, one of a growing number of companies attempting to build the LinkedIn for the medical community, today announced that it has raised $12 million in venture financing from Fuse Capital. The expansion round is the company’s largest raise to date and brings its total outside investment to $27 million.
When it comes to broadly inclusive professional networking, LinkedIn takes the cake. Yet, while people in just about every industry use LinkedIn as a place to share their professional history and bring their resume online, it’s not necessarily where the majority of your professional activity is taking place.
For many industries today, the conversation is increasingly taking place in vertical destinations that are more relevant to the needs of their particular professions. For engineers, it might be GitHub or StackOverflow, for designers, it could be Behance or Dribbble. The same is true for physicians and health professionals.
Like other industries, there’s a growing demand in healthcare for a community where doctors and other medical professionals can go to share their work history, collaborate on treatments and diagnoses and get to know their colleagues. The demand has given rise to sites like Sermo, Doximity and QuantiaMD, among others. In September, Doximity raised $17 million from Morgenthaler Ventures to support its own spin on LinkedIn for doctors, a network through which physicians can collaborate on patient treatment and find the best destination for patient referrals, for example.
As Doximity’s raise makes evident, there’s plenty of competition for the newly-capital-flush QuantiaMD — and plenty of investors willing to bet that this model (or some variation thereof) has plenty of legs.
However, there are a few places QuantiaMD could have an advantage on the competition, starting with size and experience. The company was initially founded back in 2005 and has grown to over 80 employees. On top of that, the company recently hired a new CEO, Mike Coyne, who joined the company from Verisk Health in August, a medical analytics company that he help build from a few million to over $200 million in annual revenue.
Furthermore, Coyne tells us that over 25 percent of practicing physicians have visited the platform in the past three months, a number reportedly supported by a recent study by Manhattan Research. This means that QuantiaMD now has over 160,000 registered and validated physicians (Coyne estimates there are some 600K+ practicing physicians in the U.S.) on its network and over 500 expert faculty members — all of whom are spending an average of 45 minutes on the site per week.
These numbers are cause for optimism, the CEO says, because they’re starting to reflect the fact that the medical community is ready for an online alternative to activities and practices that have traditionally been offline. Most health plans and hospitals continue to rely on homegrown portals, fax and snail mail to communicate with physicians over best practices. These institutions send an average of 17 million faxes a year, Coyne tells us.
There are plenty of analytics companies and consulting firms telling hospitals and healthcare providers where problems exist, which doctors are lagging behind in certain kinds of treatment and areas where their care is insufficient. While awareness is high, these institutions still lack an effective way to communicate with doctors, engage them and influence their care — for the better. After all, the 17 million faxes sent each year don’t seem to be working.
By creating an online and mobile platform on which validated clinician members can share their expert advice, test their understanding and knowledge with the community and stay informed of advances in technology, treatment, etc., Coyne believes that the company has created a better access point for health plans, payers and systems to reach these doctors.
With a sizable network established (and in the making), QuantiaMD knows what its doctors specialize in, what they’re up to, and can thus help health providers get targeted educational materials to the physicians they want to target, presumably with the goal of improving patient outcomes. “We can help these companies communicate to doctors why it’s important for them to change their behavior, and how that will benefit them,” the QuantiaMD CEO told TechCrunch.
As a further example of this, the company’s mobile app allows physicians, residents, med students and beyond to access short, narrated presentations that are categorized by topics and allow them to earn points for consuming them. Any member can submit a presentation, which, if approved, gets posted to the community and offers others the chance to comment and start a discussion. The idea is for this to become a good way for recent grads to get up to date on the landscape and give practicing physicians a way to view relevant clinical cases and medical contexts that can inform their decisions and treatment.
Essentially, aside from basic professional networking functionality, what QuantiaMD has created is an online and mobile content distribution network. While this can be a powerful tool especially in this vertical, QuantiaMD has (for most of its history) been limited to relying on the content industry’s traditional revenue models. This means that the company sells inventory on its network for sponsored content — in other words, ads in the form of presentations, videos, etc. It doesn’t sell banners, adwords, etc. and it clearly identifies the sponsor, which do not (so it claims) influence editorial decisions or content.
While the company has largely been supporting itself on $15 million in outside funding to date with revenues from these content channels, it doesn’t exactly lead to mind-boggling profit(ability) either. But Coyne says that he views the last several years as important to laying the foundation of the company’s platform and gaining enough of a network so that it can begin diversifying.
QuantiaMD now wants to focus its efforts (and its new capital) on becoming a software provider, with products like this suite for health payers and providers. Coyne says that several big healthcare providers have already signed multi-year licensing agreements to use its software — a revenue channel that will become a bigger part of the company’s monetization strategy going forward. By continuing to seek extended licensing agreements, along with increasing its focus on client services, Coyne projects that the company will double its revenue in 2013.
Revenue aside, if the company’s big-picture strategy can result in better quality of care and improved outcomes for the patient (you and me), then everyone stands to benefit, and the QuantiaMDs, Doximities and Sermos of the world stand to become the true professional networking and collaboration resources for the medical community. Sorry, LinkedIn.