Fri December 28, 2012
How Two Doctors Turned a Dashed Anniversary Into an Online Medical Exchange
On the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it’s likely that your doctor’s office may be closed at some point.
But doctors are never really off. There’s always someone on-call to take care of emergencies. And that someone could be from the Gueramy-Haas household here in Austin. The two-doctor home took some valuable lessons from a day of back-to-back emergencies and turned them into a better way to care for their patients.
Picture this: you’ve been married to the love of your life for almost a year. You’ve carefully selected the restaurant where you’ll have dinner on your anniversary, and you’ve made sure every detail is meaningful. When the big night arrives, everything is just as you’d imagined it: Both of you look sharp. The appetizers arrive. And … we’ll let Tracey Haas take it from here:
Her husband Tim Gueramy, an orthopedic surgeon, “got called by a resident at Brackenridge Hospital saying that there was a serious fracture. He was needed immediately and it was probably going to need a surgery.”
Four hours later, and Gueramy was still at Brackenridge. “Needless to say, I finished dinner on my own and went home alone,” Haas says.
It turned out the patient only needed a cast; Gueramy could’ve easily put one the following day without further harm to the patient. But in light of the blown anniversary, Gueramy and Haas were determined to save future dates. But how?
The year was 2007, the same year as the first iPhone came out. And that gave Gueramy and idea. “It was a merge of three things that kind of happened,” Gueramy says, “my passion – you can call it my geekiness; the iPhone and technology really catching up; and then after being in practice for a number of years, we had found a pinpoint.”
Gueramy ended up building a free platform for doctors. He called it DocbookMD. In very basic terms it helps doctors share information and consult with one another quickly, and cut down on unnecessary consultations.
Gueramy began using DocbookMD when he was on-call. By looking at x-rays on his phone or his tablet, he was able to determine which injuries were emergencies.
Tracey Haas does medical missions overseas. Through DocbookMD she started consulting with other doctors about treatment for diseases she’d never seen before. For Christmas in 2011, Haas and Gueramy traveled to Libya offering relief work. Haas says the application had life-changing consequences for some patients.
“A couple of times we were able to send x-ray images of a blast injury to a trauma surgeon back [in Austin] and got an answer back within a couple of minutes as to exactly how to care for that,” she says, “because sometimes it’s a matter of doing a surgery versus doing an amputation.”
There are benefits to patients in the U.S. as well. Haas and Gueramy have noticed doctors in rural areas using the program instead of sending a patient to consult with a specialist hours away. Looking for treatment options right there in the office can save patients time and possibly money.
Gueramy and Haas now work on DocbookMD full-time. They’re also picking up a new project: a non-profit that will connect doctors with medical missions here and around the world, slated to launch in the new year.
Oh, and they recently celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary – uninterrupted.