Online platform provides searchable resource for med students

The free, online platform Docphin – developed by a Penn grad – compiles personalized news and updates from medical journals and research

· November 15, 2011, 9:41 pm   ·  Updated November 16, 2011, 12:57 am

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Medical students may find themselves spending a lot less time in Van Pelt this semester thanks to a new medical database called Docphin which debuted Monday, Nov. 14.

Docphin is a free, online platform offering a user-friendly interface that compiles personalized news and updates from medical journals and research, along with the ability to share articles and start discussions.

“Docphin is basically a platform for people who want to be on the cutting edge of research,” explained Mitesh Patel, a co-founder of the site who received an MBA in healthcare management from the Wharton School and an M.D. from the University of Michigan.

With experience in business, medicine, and technology, the Docphin team has focused on creating a user-friendly interface, sophisticated, fast technology and a relevance filter to best serve the needs of the medical community.

“There’s not a ‘search’ problem in medicine, there’s a ‘find’ problem,” Patel said, adding that many times search functions on websites do a poor job of weeding out irrelevant articles and information.

Patel dreamt up the idea for Docphin while in medical school at the University of Michigan after he had a hard time keeping up with all the medical news related to each of his rotations and personal interests.

The two main reasons why people don’t stay updated on medical news, Patel explained, is that it is too hard to find journals and articles and because those journals and articles are not interesting.

While the Docphin team is already working on solving the first problem, they plan on tackling the second by transforming medical journals into an interactive, magazine format which would include pictures, videos, links, surveys and polls; the majority of the code has been written for these features, which will most likely be launched in 2012. Mobile, Android and iPad versions of the site are also in the works.

2012 will prove to be an important year for the company, as they also plan on expanding the site nationally. Currently, the site is partnered with Penn, the University of Michigan and the University of California at San Diego.

The site has received considerable user feedback since its launch two days ago, which the founders plan on using to further improve the site.

Leah Marcotte, a medical student at the Perelman School of Medicine and a student leader of the Institute for Health Care Improvement Open School, said a resource like this one has been lacking in the medical world. “Being able to easily search for articles and not having to spend [excessive] time” is very helpful, she added.

Docphin is a “fabulous idea,” said medical student Aileen Chang. While Penn currently offers students easy access to articles and research through online databases and online subscriptions to medical journals, Chang said she will use the service as it allows users to organize and bookmark information as well as share it with colleagues through email or social media.

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