REVIEW: A Novel Solution Allowing Me To Focus on the “Why” of Being a Doctor Rather than the “How”

DocWire News Section Adviser Payal Kohli, MD, evaluates the Doximity Dialer app.

It had been on the news all day and the advice was impossible to avoid: “Deaths from COVID keep rising. The vulnerable population should ‘shelter in place’… avoid going out… get someone younger to pick up your groceries.”

And John*, my 73-year-old patient with uncontrolled hypertension had been hearing that message loud and clear day after day.  The problem?   As he heard more and more about his risk of leaving the home, his blood pressure, which had always been a challenge for me to control started increasing even more.  He stopped going for his daily 3.5 mile walks out of fear of leaving the home.  He had been sleeping poorly but couldn’t go for a long overdue sleep apnea assessment due to the pandemic. And, what he wanted more than anything was to have a visit with me.  We had spoken on the phone but he really wanted me to “see him” to make sure he had “good color” on his face.

I knew the therapeutic power of an office visit, yet a time when neither I nor my patients felt comfortable with sitting face-to-face, even with masks ok, I knew the next best alternative would be a video visit for this patient.  I realized it would have to be relatively easy technologically for my patient – he had a smartphone that his children had bought him for his birthday but could hardly be described as “tech saavy”. In fact, besides phone calls and text messaging, his phone basically served as an expensive paperweight.

That’s where I found Doximity dialer and its ease of use took the headache out of my virtual visits.  From my perspective, there were so many advantages.  First of all, I could enter any phone number into the caller ID. (A real savior for me as I certainly didn’t want some of my patients to have access to my personal phone number).  Secondly, I could use Doximity dialer from my phone, my tablet or my laptop (really any interface), also making it so easy to have a virtual visit “on the go” or spontaneously, whenever I needed to.

During this pandemic, when we have become so reliant on online communication and cyber-hacking and scamming are on the rise, I was especially worried about any platform I use being HIPAA-compliant and secure to protect both my and my patient’s privacy.  Doximity dialer was completely compliant and secure – no firewall needed.  And, with CMS now reimbursing for virtual visits, it was important for me to have a way to integrate my virtual visit into the electronic medical record so that record-keeping and billing hassles were reduced.  Was I delighted to hear that Doximity dialer also checked that box with Epic Haiku integration!

My first experience with dialer was seamless.  It was also problem free for John.  All it took was sending him a text message to initiate the video visit – no additional downloads for him, no special software or hardware requirements on his phone or tablet… it couldn’t have been easier for him (and one less stressful thing driving up his blood pressure).

For the next week after our first visit, I decided to do twice weekly 5 min “check ins” with John, knowing the therapeutic power of physician contact.  I sent him the text message ahead of his scheduled appointment time and Doximity dialer would alert me when he had joined so I didn’t have to waste any time waiting for him to come on.  A few small tweaks to his medication regimen mixed with lots of  encouragement about how to leave the house safely for his daily walks was the perfect recipe to get his blood pressure controlled once again.

Pandemic or no pandemic – Doximity had created a novel technological solution for me I could count on as a clinician involved in daily direct-facing patient care.   So, I could spend my time and efforts focusing on the “why” of being a doctor rather than the “how”.

by Payal Kohli, MD, FACC, DocWire News Cardiology Section Adviser
*Patient name changed to protect patient privacy