Last year, Doximity launched a new video calling capability to its popular telehealth app feature called Doximity Dialer. It is a simple, secure telemedicine tool that enables doctors and other healthcare professionals to call their patients (via voice or video) directly from their own smartphones with the click of a button. Recent updates to the app now make it even easier to connect. This article reviews the new features as well as highlights how Dialer is different from other telemedicine applications.
New Dr. Alisa Niksch‘s Review Notes appear at the end of the story.
A bit about Doximity
Doximity is the leading digital platform for medical professionals. I think of it as a LinkedIn for doctors. Its network members include over 70% of U.S. physicians across all specialties and practice areas. Its platform provides digital tools ‘built for medicine,’ enabling them to do many of the things that are important in their professional lives:
- collaborate with colleagues
- stay up-to-date with the latest medical news and research
- manage their careers
- conduct virtual patient visits
I have been a member of Doximity from its earliest days. I even had the pleasure of attending some user meetings a number of years ago to help shape their offerings. Doximity has kept its focus on its primary customer – the practicing physician. I believe that is why we see so many user-friendly additions to the services they add. The Dialer updates are a good example.
Dialer enterprise for hospitals
Doximity Dialer has grown in popularity amongst doctors since its launch and now some hospitals are deploying its enterprise version of the tool, called Dialer Enterprise.
The company announced it’s now working with more than 150 U.S. Health Systems, including Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, UC San Diego Health, Fairview Health Services, and Loma Linda University Health.
Dr. Ricardo Peverini with Loma Linda University Health notes,
“Dialer Enterprise helps us expand access to care and improve overall clinical experience for patients. The ability to send a video link to patients by text message ensures patients can access their visit easily and their appointment will not be missed.”
New features on Doximity Dialer
Doximity announced the release of several new updates and added features to its Dialer tool including:
Dialer on desktop
Now users can take advantage of the bigger screen to see patients better or review patient charts during their visit.
Help limit background distractions during Dialer video calls with the new virtual background feature. Click here for instructions on using virtual backgrounds.
Healthcare professionals can share their screens with patients to review lab results, imaging, x-rays, and more.
Add an interpreter
Clinicians can now add their preferred language interpreter service to a patient visit with a single tap.
Easily add a family member to a patient’s visit or bring a colleague into the discussion. Click here for a video tutorial on group calling using Dialer.
Quickly transfer a video call to a colleague or staff member.
Call Nudge is a feature to help you keep on schedule. Sometimes patients can miss the text you’ve sent them or forget about your scheduled video visit. Call nudge allows you to call your patient without leaving the video call room. Your call will appear to the patient as coming from your office number and allow you to check in with the patient to see if they’re still available for a video visit.
Long Press any phone number to call via Doximity Dialer:
There’s a new time saver for Dialer on iOS. You can now long-press any phone number in email, text, or your EHR to securely call via Doximity Dialer. Just choose Doximity from the list and the call will appear from your office or hospital line.
How to get started with Doximity Dialer
If you don’t already have the Doximity app, download it for free from the iOS or Android app store. If you do have the app, make sure you’ve got the latest version so you can access all the new features.
Once the app is open, click on the “Dialer” icon at the bottom navigation bar. Now simply enter the patient’s mobile number and then touch the big green button labeled “video call.” This sends a text message to the patient inviting them to join the call. As soon as they accept, the doctor and patient are connected via video and the televisit begins. It’s that simple.
Why Dialer Is different from other telemedicine platforms
There are some great features to Doximity Dialer that differentiate it from some of the other platforms being used, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams:
Dialer Video is HIPAA compliant
First of all, Dialer Video is HIPAA compliant. Although that is not required right now because it has been waived because of the pandemic. It is possible, however, once the pandemic is over the HIPAA regulations will be instituted. Regulations aside, however, protecting your patients’ personal health information (PHI) is a good practice and the right thing to do.
Patients see your office number
Once you have added your office number(s) to your Doximity platform, you can choose to have that number be the one that the patient sees when they get your invitation to join the call. There are two benefits to this. First of all, your regular patients will see a number they recognize. And second, they will not see your private mobile number.
You can send the patient a “no-reply text” to provide them with additional information that does not require a response from them. For example, you can let them know that you have left a voice mail. Although checking voice mail used to be an essential activity, many people are communicating in other ways, such as text or What’s App. The voice mail may go unchecked for days without a prompt to check it.
No virtual waiting room
There is no virtual waiting room! No one likes the in-person waiting room at the clinic, so why create a virtual one? Doctors simply send the text with a link to connect with their patients whenever they are ready. Patients don’t have to waste valuable time in virtual limbo. And doctors don’t need to feel rushed in between appointments. If patients miss your text to connect, use the “Call Nudge” feature to send them a gentle appointment reminder.
Direct to voice mail messaging
There is also an option to call your patient and leave a voice mail without ringing their phone. The call goes directly to voice mail thus avoiding a conversation if you don’t have time to chat.
Integration with Epic
Finally, integration with Epic allows authorized care team members to initiate calls to patients seamlessly from within Epic’s mobile electronic health record app.
Telemedicine is here to stay
Covid-19 has catapulted medicine into a new, virtual world. Although telemedicine has been around for years, it’s quickly transitioned in the last 6 months from a “nice-to-have” for medical practices, to a real necessity. Today, physicians rely on telemedicine to see their patients, as well as diagnose and treat minor and chronic conditions.
In fact, a recent report by McKinsey, before the pandemic, only 11% of Americans used telehealth. Now, almost half are replacing office visits with virtual ones.
Doximity’s Vice President of Product, Dr. Peter Alperin says “Patient expectations have changed through the pandemic, as has day-to-day life for many of our members in the medical community. Telehealth is part of this evolution and we’re proud that Dialer has been an important tool in helping to facilitate this transition to virtual care. That we’ve become the ‘physicians favorite’ and one of the most used telehealth platforms is humbling to our team.”
The bottom line
The Doximity Dialer is a great addition to the telehealth armamentarium. It gives doctors an easy way to add telehealth visits to their practice. Further, it is very easy for patients because they don’t need to do anything but answer their phones in order to have a virtual visit with their own doctor. What could be better?
I am firmly convinced that telehealth is here to stay. After all, why would anyone want to go back to the old way of seeing your doctor if you didn’t have to? You know what I mean: taking a day off of work to drive to a doctor’s appointment, search for parking, wait in the waiting room with sick people only to see your doctor’s back for 15 minutes. That’s my opinion anyway, what’s yours?
Also, we would love to hear from you about your experience with Doximity Dialer or any other telehealth platform that you are using.
Medical Reviewer Notes by Dr. Alisa Niksch
As clinicians have experienced over the last year, the frequency of virtual visits has dramatically increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With assistance from more widespread opportunities for reimbursement, as well as investment through the 2020 CARES Act, the expansion of telehealth services was enabled in many of the larger health systems in the U.S.
However, based on data from The Commonwealth Fund in 2020 (“Telemedicine: What should the post-pandemic regulatory and payment landscape look like?” Commonwealth Fund, August 5, 2020), smaller practices lagged in their ability to both initiate and scale telemedicine programs.
The new offerings of telehealth services from Doximity are a boon to these types of practitioners who are in smaller group practices and have a smaller margin to invest in enterprise telehealth systems. In many cases, these practices exist in rural and/or lower income communities, where healthcare access was a crisis prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Taking off a day or half-day at work is not convenient, let alone possible for many workers in this country. The ability for the Doximity platform to perform individual patient outreach and make it easy to connect with language services demonstrates awareness of the barriers to medical care.
While there is still hesitation regarding the future of telehealth reimbursement and regulation as the pandemic winds down, there appears to be no stopping the juggernaut of industry from tackling ways to enrich the virtual care ecosystem. For small practices and individual practitioners who have been left behind in the ability to invest in larger-scale telehealth software, the new Doximity product should be welcome.
Financial disclosure: TDWI did not receive compensation for the publication of this story.
Original story published 6/3/20.
Patricia Salber, MD, MBA
Patricia Salber, MD, MBA is the Founder. CEO, and Editor-in-Chief of The Doctor Weighs In (TDWI). Founded in 2005 as a single-author blog, it has evolved into a multi-authored, multi-media health information site with a global audience. She has worked hard to ensure that TDWI is a trusted resource for health information on a wide variety of health topics. Moreover, Dr. Salber is widely acknowledged as an important contributor to the health information space, including having been honored by LinkedIn as one of ten Top Voices in Healthcare in both 2017 and 2018.
Dr. Salber has a long list of peer-reviewed publications as well as publications in trade and popular press. She has published two books, the latest being “Connected Health: Improving Care, Safety, and Efficiency with Wearables and IoT solutions. She has hosted podcasts and video interviews with many well-known healthcare experts and innovators. Spreading the word about health and healthcare innovation is her passion.
She attended the University of California Berkeley for her undergraduate and graduate studies and UC San Francisco for medical school, internal medicine residency, and endocrine fellowship. She also completed a Pew Fellowship in Health Policy at the affiliated Institute for Health Policy Studies. She earned an MBA with a health focus at the University of California Irvine.
She joined Kaiser Permanente (KP)where she practiced emergency medicine as a board-certified internist and emergency physician before moving into administration. She served as the first Physician Director for National Accounts at the Permanente Federation. And, also served as the lead on a dedicated Kaiser Permanente-General Motors team to help GM with its managed care strategy. GM was the largest private purchaser of healthcare in the world at that time. After leaving KP, she worked as a physician executive in a number of health plans, including serving as EVP and Chief Medical Officer at Universal American.
She consults and/or advises a wide variety of organizations including digital start-ups such as CliniOps, My Safety Nest, and Doctor Base (acquired). She currently consults with Duty First Consulting as well as Faegre, Drinker, Biddle, and Reath, LLP.
Pat serves on the Board of Trustees of MedShare, a global humanitarian organization. She chairs the organization’s Development Committee and she also chairs MedShare's Western Regional Council.
Dr. Salber is married and lives with her husband and dog in beautiful Marin County in California. She has three grown children and two granddaughters with whom she loves to travel.