Boole start-up of the week: Doclink

21 Sep 2015

Kristjan Koik, founder, Doclink

Our start-up of the week is Doclink, which helps doctors and their teams collaborate digitally and securely.

“Doctors around the world are using text messaging and are creating WhatsApp groups to communicate, which has really helped how they work,” explains Kristjan Koik, founder of Doclink.

“The problem is, it’s not secure and they aren’t supposed to share any patient information, which is mostly what they use it for.”

‘The hospitals themselves don’t need to sign up, it’s the doctors who choose to use DocLink themselves as a replacement for WhatsApp because DocLink is HIPAA compliant’

DocLink helps doctors to collaborate with their teams in a similar way but with additional coaching and training features, while fixing the patient privacy issue.

“It’s also free, and has a social networking platform within it, a bit like a dedicated LinkedIn for the medical community.”

The founder

Koik has been involved with other start-ups in Ireland, most recently INSTACOACH, a video analysis platform used by tennis, golf, cricket and swim coaches around the world.

“I’m also the founder of a fintech start-up in the UK — Flender — which is ethical and social P2P lending platform.

“My partners in Doclink have technology and medical backgrounds.”

The technology

At the heart of Doclink is a newsfeed/forum that tailors the information based on the area of medicine in which a medical professional would specialise.

“For instance, if you are a cardiologist your newsfeed will contain posts related mostly to cardiology, and you can also post your own thoughts or articles for other cardiologists around the world to read, comment on and share.

“Secondly, we have the chat forum where you can create groups within your own clinic or hospital in order to share information among peers, including videos and images, which are secure to HIPAA compliance level (the highest USA standard for handling secure patient data).

“You can even edit videos from others and provide audio and graphical feedback on their video before sharing it back to groups or individuals. This has created a new kind of collaboration for doctors and an incredible training aid that two colleges are aiming to roll out later this year.”

Koik said the ultimate goal is to have Doclink become the first means of communication within the medical world.

“We also want to be the training and coaching tool of choice for doctors and medical teams.”

The start-up is making good progress

So far Doclink is making good progress in the Irish medical world with the platform being used by teams in the six main Irish hospitals.

“The hospitals themselves don’t need to sign up, it’s the doctors who choose to use DocLink themselves as a replacement for WhatsApp because DocLink is HIPAA compliant, unlike WhatsApp.

“Many vascular surgeons and cardiologists in Ireland are using it.

“We are close to launching with two large medical colleges who required some minor customisations before rolling it out to their members, who are a mix of doctors and surgeons around the world who studied with them as well as the current medical student base: a total of more than 30,000 new users in one case.

Timing is everything

Koik said that the main challenge facing Doclink has been raising the right amount of investment at the right time without giving too much share of the company away.

“Valuing a pre-revenue company is a challenge, and opinions vary significantly. We have gotten a working product to market without raising external funding and to grow further we need to raise external investment.

He said it is a great time to be a start-up in Ireland in terms of the level of innovation, the skills pool, and the seed funding available, especially from Enterprise Ireland.

“However, labour costs can be high, and the skills pool I mentioned can be very busy, meaning you might have to wait a while to get certain projects scheduled if you are bootstrapping it.”

His advice for other tech self-starters based in Ireland right now?

“Don’t be shy about outsourcing work using sites like elance, it can save a lot of time and money, and there is a lot of good talent available offshore.”

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years