Social Networking App Launches Physicians into ‘Orbit’

December 2, 2016

Social Orbit booth at ACEP16

ESP physician Dr. Greg Hadden (right) introduced his company’s new social networking app at the ACEP16 Scientific Assembly in October, drawing large crowds.

Despite years of intense education and having the ultimate responsibility for saving lives, recent changes in the health care system have left some physicians feeling marginalized or unappreciated in their own industry. Now, a new smart phone app developed in part by ESP physician Dr. Greg Hadden aims to put physicians back at the center of the health care universe.

Orbit is a new social media app described as “a cross between a medical question bank, social network, and current medical research in one place.” The free app aspires to be equal parts learning, networking, and entertainment—all focused on the physician.

“There is an overwhelming feeling in medicine that the physician is turning into just another cog in the medical machine,” Hadden said. “Providers are the heart of medicine and at the center of health care delivery. While every other company and organization is focused on trying to make medicine more efficient, they are forgetting the individuals in health care who actually make it all work.”

Orbit was deliberately designed to put the doctor in control and at the center. Physician users can customize content to fit their interests and create social networks with others in their “orbit.”

“Medicine is changing,” Hadden said. “A lot of the camaraderie and connection with our physician peers has been eroded because we are all so busy worrying about electronic medical records, hospital accreditation surveys, quality metrics, billing, patient satisfaction surveys—the list goes on and on. We wanted to create a community where doctors can connect with each other and reconnect with what they love about medicine.”

The result is an app that bills itself as “seriously fun medicine.” Other physician social networks such as Doximity and Sermo already have hundreds of thousands of members, but Orbit’s founders believe the user experience on these sites is lacking.

“Medicine is a serious business,” Hadden said, “but it can also be fun!”

Hadden has worked as an ESP physician in the Austin area since 2005 and is currently the medical director for Five Star ER in Dripping Springs. He is one of three partners in Social Orbit, the company that developed the Orbit app.

Hadden focuses primarily on developing the app’s medical content and ensuring that the product appeals to physicians. One of his business partners, an executive at streaming radio firm Pandora, focuses on the business and mobile technology of the enterprise. Another partner, a college friend of Hadden, is an expert in business development and gaming. The two partners conceived the app at their sons’ soccer game in Silicon Valley and then shared their idea with the Austin physician.

“It really resonated,” Hadden said. “I thought this would be a fun opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way to the field of medicine.”

About year later, the app was ready for private beta testing, and it recently went live in the App Store.

Orbit’s first introduction to a larger audience occurred in October 2016 at the annual American College of Emergency Physicians Scientific Assembly in Las Vegas. Although the booth was located toward the rear of the exhibit hall, word travelled fast and physicians flocked there to play with the app.

“We had doctors stacked up four deep at one point, and they even had to move the nearby coffee station to make room,” Hadden said. “We were able to enroll a lot of enthusiastic users from Maine to Hawaii.”

Dr. Christian Trux, a third-year emergency medicine resident at the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School, was invited to participate in the beta testing.

“I really like that I can quickly quiz myself during my spare time,” Trux said. “The short quizzes allow me to test my knowledge on some pretty common topics. This is a great way to review for resident inservice exams and for my emergency medicine board exams. It really helps you realize your topics of weakness.”

Dr. Danielle Jackson, an ESP emergency physician in Austin, notes that “maintaining competency in medicine can be a chore,” but said the Orbit app makes learning fun.

“Doctors are a competitive bunch,” Jackson said. “It’s great to challenge yourself with solo games, but I especially enjoy battling colleagues in head-to-head quizzes!”

As part of the app’s physician focus, Hadden said it was important to limit the network to physicians only. Attorneys, recruiters, hospital administrators, and other non-clinical professionals are not allowed. Users must pass a three-stage credential check to verify that they are, in fact, physicians.

“The integrity of Orbit and the privacy of our Orbiters is very important to us,” Hadden said.

Currently, the app is only available to U.S. physicians. However, the company plans to launch a version that includes advanced practice providers in 2017. Users will also be able to join specific groups and customize content based on their profession and interests.

Orbit’s current focus is on emergency physicians, with more than 1,300 emergency medicine questions for users to answer. The company plans to expand into other specialties in 2017.

“I would love to see all U.S. physicians sharing, collaborating, and supporting each other,” Hadden said. “Orbit can keep them up to date with breaking medical news, help them plan their educational travel, explore job opportunities, and learn, all while winning some really awesome prizes that focus on helping them recharge their emotional batteries.”

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About Emergency Service Partners, L.P.

Founded in 1988, Emergency Service Partners, L.P. is a physician practice management group specializing in hospital emergency departments (EDs). The physician-owned and physician-managed partnership serves more than 35 EDs across Texas. In addition, ESP provides pulmonary, intensive care, sleep medicine, hospitalist, and ob/gyn hospitalist services in Central Texas.