The O&P Social Network

Azad Robert Hasan, CO, president and chief executive officer, Firstcare
Orthopaedics, felt the communication level between him and his fellow O&P
colleagues was lacking, restricted to educational meetings and special events
only. Of course, he could pick up the phone or send an email, but he was
thinking bigger. Hasan envisioned a one-stop place where all O&P
professionals — prosthetists, orthotists, pedorthists, fitters,
technicians, vendors, students and health care organizations — could
communicate and discuss problem cases or the latest O&P technology.


Hasan did not want to network just O&P practitioners; he wanted to
network the entire industry on a global scale. He imagined instead of sitting
down and talking to peers and colleagues over coffee for 5 or 10 minutes,
O&P practitioners could theoretically carry on conversations from across
the world. Along with his partner, William Truskey, COF, vice president,
Firstcare Orthopaedics, Hasan created a
social network aimed specifically for the O&P industry
and those associated with it. In June 2011, was launched.

How it works

Before becoming an actual member, potential users must fill out basic
information including their name, birthdate and gender. Potential members are
then asked to check a box of O&P professions or interests. The list
includes O&P, therapist, vendor, student, central fabrication, health care
organization, physician or advertising. Potential users may choose more than
one box. Users are asked to list their current employer, email address and
contact number. After becoming a member, users are free to personalize their
profile by uploading profile pictures. They can also personalize their privacy
settings, similar to Facebook. Once users become members, they are free to
invite friends to the site or add content such as blog posts or videos.

“We want to make sure we are protecting privacy while upholding the
highest integrity of the site,” Truskey said. “We monitor the site
for potential abuse to make sure nothing is abused and everyone is

Because it is a social network and operates in real time, Hasan and
Truskey keep up with the updates and emails while their team of IT experts
takes care of any code writing issues.

“William and I are passionate about the industry and believe
O&P Social will help improve the services of its members,” Hasan said.

Safe place for questions

Two minds are better than one; this is the ethos of O&P Social. As
an owner of a private practice, Hasan had numerous questions about insurance,
new technology and patient care. O&P Social strives to make it easier for
members to receive feedback from other O&P members who have similar
O&P-related questions. Hasan and Truskey want the user to have the
confidence to pose a question to other members on the site, knowing that the
question could be answered quickly.

“There are thousands of people around the world that you are
theoretically working with,” Hasan told O&P Business
. “You can get immediate real-time feedback from other
practitioners that you can chat with or go back to the site to find answers to
your questions. Maybe you have a question about a certain procedure or new
technique. The site is a host for information.”

As of press time, O&P Social had more than 600 members and was
averaging approximately 1,100 hits a day. The average O&P Social member
spends about 10 minutes on the site. According to Hasan, members of the site
come from 22 countries and their numbers are growing. This is the essence of
O&P Social — members from South Africa talking about new device
technology with fellow O&P professionals in Virginia.

“We are bringing everyone under one roof,” Truskey told
O&P Business News. “Our field is made up of O&P
practitioners but our industry is made up of physical therapists, vendors,
health care organizations, insurance companies, etc… We want everyone to
understand that this isn’t just for O&P, but for everyone associated
with O&P.”

O&P Social has recently added a new page called O&P Voice. Here,
members can share any and all success stories with other members.

“We feel O&P Voice will be one of the main focuses of our
network and we are excited to learn what is happening around the world,”
Hasan said. “It is a way for people to get recognized. Helping someone
walk for the first time in 2 years is a great feeling and it should be

Hasan and Truskey considered creating a Facebook page, but according to
Hasan, he wanted the freedom of working on his own platform. It was a question
he pondered for many months.

“It would have been easier to just make a Facebook page, but there
is only so much you can do on Facebook,” he said. “You are working on
their platform. Plus, you may not want everyone seeing what you are writing.
Facebook has all your friends and family. This can be more private and is
focused on the O&P profession. We wanted this to be associated with O&P
not Facebook. We felt users would be more comfortable on our site.”

What’s next?

The goal of the site is simple, according to Hasan: change the way
people view the O&P industry.

“In the coming years, I hope that O&P Social continues to
improve online access to information by allowing all members to benefit from
the best practices learned by others and by providing a forum where members can
discuss new technologies and trends affecting the O&P industry,” Hasan

Hasan and Truskey created the site solely for the benefit of its
members. They have not yet charged for ads, but will in the future to cover
operating costs and to improve the efficiency of the site.

“We are committed to the original purpose of the site, which is to
provide an informational benefit to the O&P industry.”— by
Anthony Calabro

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