Couple’s App Keeps Doctors Connected

AUSTIN KXAN, April 2, 2012

Two Austin doctors had an idea a few years ago that could help them diagnose and make referrals on the go, and what they ended up creating is one of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce’ s hottest startup companies of 2012.

When Austin Regional Clinic family physician Tracey Haas and orthopedic surgeon Tim Gueramy got married a few years ago, they knew their schedules would prove to be challenging to their marriage. Just ask them what happened on their first anniversary.

“We were out to dinner at a nice place here in Austin, and he gets paged by the ER at Brackenridge by a resident who says, ‘There’s a bad fracture, you have to come in,’ right as appetizers were being served,” said Haas.

Gueramy reported to the Emergency Department at University Medical Center Brackenridge in Austin and missed dinner altogether, thinking the whole time he really did not need to physically be in the emergency room after all.

“Four hours later he came home, and he said you know I really didn’t have to go in, said Haas. If I had been able to get an X-ray on my iPhone I would have been able to finish dinner with you.”

The birth of an idea

That night, the idea for DocBookMD was born. It is a smartphone platform for physicians allowing them to quickly communicate with one another. They can get advice, send images like EKGs, x-rays and other medical records — all within the boundaries of medical privacy. Doctors use the app on iPhones, iPads and Androids.

“I can send an X-ray, said Haas. I can either send a picture of the patient or I can just send X-ray images to the doctor who is on call that night. They will instantly write me back and say that patient is going to need surgery. I’ll see them in the morning.”

To live up to federal medical privacy rules, DocBookMD only allows physicians to take part, and they’re required to be a part of their county or state medical society. All of the activity is run through a secure server with encryption on multiple levels, and the data sent between doctors is stored on the server, not on doctors’ mobile devices.

Doctors send others message alerts, images like X-rays and CT scans, and can make life-saving decisions without having to wait to get to the hospital.

“We found after doing research that there was data to show that the number one complication in hospital, the number one bad event that happens in hospitals is due to the lack of communication between medical staff, said Gueramy.

The idea for the application developed to help two Austin doctors stay connected has ultimately helped hundreds of thousands of other physicians in at least 23 states do the same, benefiting most importantly their patients.

Haas and Gueramy originally thought the DocBookMD application would be used only in Travis County. They worked through the Travis County Medical Society and required doctors to be members of the society before using the app. In Texas, being a member of a county medical society automatically makes a doctor a member of the Texas Medical Association.

After physicians started using DocBookMD, soon Dallas County, Texas, called wanting to utilize it, too, and the calls did not stop there. The young company quickly spread its app across the state of Texas and 22 other states. Haas and Gueramy have plans to have a presence in all 50 states by the end of 2012

Medical liability companies fund DocBookMD for doctors who belong to a medical society, so it is free for the physicians.

DocBookMD on medical mission work

Haas and Gueramy have discovered how valuable DocBookMD can be during their medical mission work all over the world. The pair has traveled extensively to several countries to volunteer their medical skills. In doing so, DocBookMD has literally changed lives halfway around the world. Haas and Gueramy most recently worked in Libya, taking all sorts of experts with them — all in the palm of their hands.

“In Libya we actually sat down and realized, wait a second,” said Dr. Gueramy. This is a really bad fracture that I don’t deal with but it would be great if one of my partners was here. ‘Oh wait a second. He is here. He’s right there in my phone.’ I didn’t call him — I sent an X-ray and messaged him and within minutes got an answer back.”

That high-speed technology drew sharp contrasts to the working environment of the Austin doctors. Misrata, Libya on the northwestern coast had been torn apart by Moammar Gadhafi’s forces. Buildings have huge holes in almost every wall, and they are crumbling into the streets. Haas and Gueramy discovered Misrata’s doctors were decades behind.

“They had just been stifled by Moammar Gadhafi and not seen the outside world and had no idea how to do 20th century work,” said Gueramy. “They were doing 1970s orthopedics.”

The Austin doctors taught the Libyans new techniques of repairing and replacing broken limbs. Haas and Gueramy drew upon their own education and the expertise of other physicians thousands of miles away.

“We’re talking all the way around the world to send some information, enough from a physician that he could make a decision and help me make a decision about someone’s life,” said Gueramy.

Haas and Gueramy are already planning their next trip to Libya to continue educating doctors there in the coming weeks.

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One Response to “Couple’s App Keeps Doctors Connected”

  1. September 18, 2012 at 7:21 pm, cat said:

    Great article, I enjoyed reading it.

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