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Austin Doctors Build Online Platform for Consultations

Austin, Texas, December 28, 2012; By: Joy Diaz, KUT News

The week between Christmas and New Year’s it’s very likely that your doctor’s office may have reduced hours or even be closed at some point. But doctors are never really off. There’s always someone on-call to take care of emergencies.

That someone could be from the Gueramy-Hass household here in Austin. The two doctor family took lessons learned from one day of back-to-back emergencies and turned them into a better way to care for their patients.

On night a few years ago, Tracey Hass and her husband, Tim Gueramy, were about to dig into a dinner celebrating their first wedding anniversary, when the phone rang for Tim.

“He got called by a resident at Brackenridge Hospital saying that there was a serious fracture,” said Tracey. “He was needed immediately and it was probably going to need a surgery.”

Four hours later, Tim, an orthopedic surgeon, was still at Brackenridge.

“Needless to say, I finished dinner on my own and went home alone,” said Tracey.

Turns out the patient only needed a cast and Gueramy could’ve easily put one the following day, without further harm to the patient. But the anniversary was ruined. Gueramy and Haas were determined to save future memorable dates. But, how?

Gueramy is a self-professed geek and the year was 2007, the same year the first iPhone came out. So, he built a free platform for doctors. He called it DocBookMD.

In very basic terms, it helps doctors share information and consult with one another.

“It was a merge of three things that kind of happened: my passion, you can call it my geekyness. The iPhone and technology really catching up. And then, after being in practice for a number of years. We had found a pinpoint.”

Gueramy began using DocBookMD when he was on-call. By looking at x-rays on his phone or his tablet he was able to determine which injuries were emergencies.

Hass does medical missions. Through DocBookMD she started consulting with other doctors about treatment for diseases she’d never seen before. Often, Gueramy and Hass do mission work together. Last year they went to Libya. Their tablets – and the 11,000 doctors who now use their platform – went with them.

“A couple of times we were able to send x-ray images of a blast injury to a trauma surgeon back here and got an answer back within a couple of minutes as to exactly how to care for that,” said Tracey. “Because sometimes it’s a matter of doing a surgery versus doing an amputation and so it’s a major, major decision to make in – you know – that patient’s life.”

There are benefits to patients in the U.S., as well. Hass and Gueramy have noticed doctors in rural areas are using the program instead of sending a patient to consult with a specialist hours away in a big city. Looking for treatment options right there in the office can save patients time – and money.

Gueramy and Hass now work on DocBook MD full-time. They’re also picking up a new project. A non-profit that will connect doctors with medical missions here and around the world.

Oh, and they recently celebrated their 4th wedding anniversary – uninterrupted.

Click here for the full Podcast available on KUT.org

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