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Houston Doctor Improves Lives through Social Networking

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Rafael Lugo, M.D., F.A.C.S., a prestigious local doctor, has performed laser surgery, robotic surgery and stays at the forefront of the medical field, as evidenced by his Fellow of the American College of Surgeons or "F.A.C.S." designation. He is no stranger to technology,either; in fact, he has described it as "his passion" during this interview with Examiner.com. So, a year ago, when he was first invited to use a new social media network that touted the ability to allow secure messaging to other physicians and discuss the latest medical news and information all while constructing a network of colleagues, he took notice.

This network, Doximity, was created specificially for physicians, healthcare professionals and medical facilities by Jeff Tangney, co-founder of Epocrates, a software predecessor. All members are verified and checked before being admitted into Doximity's Web site and the communication allowed through the site meets the healthcare industry's rigorous HIPPA standards for the protection and secure transmission of privileged patient information.

Dr. Lugo describes Doximity as "a cross between LinkedIn and Facebook" and claims that, while Epocrates is still a complementary tool for coding and reference materials, Doximity recommends local doctors, provides medical journals with links to online content and he can send texts with attached images that are so clear, he has received opinions and advice from physicians as far away as Harvard and the Mayo Clinic. It even makes hospital schedules available and synchronizes them with his associates so he can request a covering physician if a conflict in his schedule arises. Still, Doximity is a work in progress. "I would like to see an improved CME (continuing medical education) tool, journaling capability...and a patient portal, so they can log in and I can communicate with them directly", states Dr. Lugo. Communication, however, is the key. "In one year's time, this has become a part of my everyday routine. I used to have to Google to find other doctors in the area and the information would be old and outdated. Now, I go to Doximity, click on the name and everything is there." When he sends patients to other doctors for further treatment, Doximity allows him to securely send his recommendations and patient information and be sure that the patient is referred to a doctor that can meet their treatment requirements and save time.

Dr. Lugo has seen his own network increase from 10 doctors to nearly 250 contacts and told Examiner.com that he is "absolutely" more inclined to work with other doctors that are connected through Doximity. To this end, he actively pursues new recruits, in both Primary Care and Specialty fields, by telling them the benefits of joining. There are some benefits that even he did not know about, as one primary doctor who joined the free network on his recommendation won an AppleĀ® iPad. "After that, everyone wanted to know how to join", Lugo laughed. The impact on patient care is undeniable, though, and the more that are added to the network, the better. "The exchange of information is crucial...this increases the quality of care, " Dr. Lugo concluded. "Communication in health care makes everybody happy."

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