Twenty-seven thousand times last month, doctors from across Canada collaborated on The Rounds, a social network for medical professionals, to discuss health issues.
The Halifax startup, which launched on Feb. 3, connects doctors from across the country, allowing them to ask questions, create local “groups” and discuss medical issues.
Only doctors are allowed to sign up for the basic service and all the information is double encrypted, so there are no concerns about breaking patient confidentiality.
It has already proved its worth, with more than 1,100 doctors on the application, interacting 27,000 times in the first few weeks.
And revenue is starting to pick up, though the company is not yet cash-flow positive.
“We have the money to hire on full-time staff and the money raised gives us a 12-month runway,” founder and CEO Blair Ryan said, meaning that the company likely won’t have to raise more money for a year.
He has raised enough money to realize growth, and is projecting $500,000 in revenue by the end of the year.
Access to The Rounds — formerly known as Boondoc — is free for doctors, but the company allows pharmaceutical companies, medical associations or other groups to pay to engage on the site in a non-intrusive manner.
The first such paying customer is now using the site.
This means there are no pop-up ads, but the network does have sponsored pages in which doctors can seek out more information.
Recently, The Rounds had a sponsored quiz, where doctors checked to see if they were properly prescribing medication.
Ryan already runs the Empathy Factory, a not-for-profit organization that teaches children empathy and encourages them to help with social change.
With Ryan at The Rounds is CTO Daniel Enman, and Bill Power, who came on as COO last month. Both Enman and Power bring with them experience in the startup community, having founded Znania and Impetus Innovations respectively.
The 10-person team includes three marketing positions and the rest are part of the development crew.
Ryan said The Rounds must now connect with more Canadian doctors and is focusing on three things: to get more users, which will increase the value of the product; to increase engagement of existing users; and to get other doctors to refer it to their colleagues.
“We need to be where our users are — at conferences, in medical journals, on Linkedin,” Ryan said in an interview.
The breakdown of the users is representative of the community of Canadian doctors. Half are family doctors, just as half of the Canadian medical community practises family medicine. Interestingly, rural doctors use it the most, probably because they don’t have the physical network a doctor in a major city hospital would have.
Ryan wants to make spending time on the website more worthwhile.
Since it’s collaborative and educational, he believes doctors should be able to get continuing medical education credits for time spent in the online community.
With Canadian doctors required to complete more than 40 credits each year, this could bring more users — and therefore more value — to the network.