Future Proof Docs - Amit Phull, MD

Welcome to another installment of Future Proof Docs - a series profiling physicians who excel at something outside of medicine and care enough to share their passions with us.  Today I want to introduce a physician who you may not know by name, but you probably have used his product.  I hope you will enjoy this Q&A with Dr. Amit Phull, MD - Medical Director of Doximity, Inc.


I am an Emergency Medicine physician – on staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago and also at the VA Hospital in San Francisco.  In another life, I was a computer engineer and have always been interested in the interface between medicine and technology.  Working at Doximity as the Medical Director brings out the perfect blend of those two worlds and provides me the great opportunity to work with talented engineers who are building software that is making healthcare more efficient.

[FPMD: I'm a tech junkie myself.  I've focused on financial tech mostly for FPMD.  But I agree health tech has the potential to impact a lot more people.]

When and why did you decide to become a physician?

I sort of always knew I wanted to be a physician, but if I had to focus on any one specific time of my life where this desire became more firm in my mind/heart, it was at the beginning of middle school for me.  This was a time in my life when I began to question things, to question everything really.  I questioned things I had been taught as a child, I questioned my religious beliefs and the tumult caused by this introspection increased how fascinated I was by life and death.  I wanted to become a doctor to further pursue the answers to questions I could not answer on my own.  What the point of life was, how individuals/families approached death, what happened when people passed, etc.  Pursuing medicine, for me, was as much rooted in a desire to help myself build out a deeper understanding of the world/universe as it was in the wonderful side-effect of helping people along the way.

[FPMD: I would have settled for "I wanted to be a superhero."  But this is just as good.]

Why your specialty?

I am an Emergency Medicine Physician.  I decided to go into EM pretty early on in medical school, though I did dabble with thoughts about going into either General surgery or Radiology.  EM fits my personality type well I believe.  It enables you to get involved in a very wide variety of things.  Every day as an EM physician is a little different than the last, and you have to be prepared to handle everything from the simplest urgent care-type complaint to a massive trauma or critically ill patient.  Emergency medicine also affords a great deal of lifestyle flexibility.  Not having a firmly set patient population really enables you to work in a variety of different locations at times that enable you to also pursue other interests, which I have been very fortunate to be able to do at Doximity.

[FPMD: Any interest in starting a blog? Seems to be popular among EM docs.  Although I suppose the DocNews feed at Doximity probably has more readers than any blog.]

When and why did you start WORKING FOR DOXIMITY? 

I have been working at Doximity for almost 2.5 years now.  Prior to that, I informally worked with Doximity as a testing/sounding board for their software as part of Doximity’s Physician Panel.  I started this type of work because I have always been passionate about being able to design and build software that makes healthcare more efficient.  Way back in the day, I designed built a program to help post-transplant patients monitor their transplant medication regimens.  This platform enabled patients to be reminded of when to take which medications, and also enabled their physicians to monitor their compliance.  This was back in the era of Palm pilots, I am embarrassed to admit.  But even then you could see that simple technologies like this can have enormous impact in the field of healthcare.  At Doximity, we focus our product development on making the lives/workdays of our physician users easier.  I am a firm believer that the downstream impact of this is enhancing patient care. 

[FPMD: Can't agree more.  Technology has the ability to disrupt pretty much any industry we can think of.  Healthcare is the biggest prize of them all.  Anyone wants to make the perfect EMR?  Apple I'm looking at you...]

What is the biggest challenge running DOXIMITY while being a doc at the same time?  How do you deal with it?

The biggest challenge when it comes to designing tools for physicians is getting in front of the physicians themselves and being able to show them how simple changes in their workflow can have tremendous impacts in their efficiency and patient care.  I feel we are just on the cusp of our users actually becoming fully aware of what all they can do with the platform we have built for them.  As you feel, I also often feel that it would be nice to have more than 24 hours in a day, haha.  With the time we do have though, we love putting compelling content in front of our users that keeps them up to date on the news that impacts their practice and their businesses, and we love providing them products that make their clinical workdays easier.

[FPMD: A bit of background, in the Q&A form I send to FP Docs, the original question was "What is the biggest challenge running your ______ while being a doc at the same time?  How do you deal with it? (My biggest issue is the lack of time, I feel like I need more than 24hrs in a day!  How about you?)."  Hope that explains the 24 hours part.]

What are the top 3 life lessons you have for FPMD readers?

Man, this type of question is always hard to answer.  Hmm, in terms of bits of advice I have internalized along the way that I think are good lessons to live by:

  1. Time is the only commodity of value that we actually have – don’t forget that.  Leverage the time you have to do things that bring fulfillment to your life and don’t forget to have fun along the way
  2. It’s somewhat arbitrary to believe that we should spend the entirety of our working lives in pursuit of only one thing – explore all of the things that you love and you may be surprised by what you find
  3. Make sure you have some fun.  If you don’t ever get to do that, what is the point?

[FPMD: Wise words.  I can relate to all 3, although #1 is the major constraint of my exploring #2.  I suppose I do have FPMD.]

Give me 3 blog posts that FPMD readers can visit to get the “core” of what you stand for.

This one doesn’t apply as well to me I don’t think.  I would just urge your readers to also read their Doximity DocNews Digests – particularly when we are featuring FPMD content!  We would love feedback on the content we send out so we can continue to improve.

[FPMD: This part didn't really apply to Amit, but there are some great content on the DocNews Digests.  To sign up, log into your Doximity account and head over to "settings".  Click HERE for a list of FPMD features in DocNews.]

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Future Proof, MD

Dr. Bo Liu is an aspiring radiologist-in-training and the founder and editor of the White Coat Money Blog.  He has an interest in interventional radiology and helping his medical colleagues get ahead in this mad world of medicine and money.  When he's not crushing the list at the PACS station or typing up your next favorite blog post, you can usually find him at the local badminton club, movie theater or the most recently opened restaurant.