The Physician Spotlight is an interview series highlighting prominent members of the Doximity network. Each interview sheds light on the unique challenges physicians face in medicine today and how Doximity’s tools and technology are helping doctors solve these issues. This week, we interviewed Amit Phull, MD, Doximity’s VP of Strategy and a practicing emergency medicine physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, IL.
Q: How did you discover Doximity?
A: I found out about Doximity by virtue of actually applying to be a member on their physicians advisory panel. In the early days of the network, as they were beginning to build out the platform and the features within, they actually solicited feedback from physicians by allowing us to beta test the software. Doximity’s mission to rewire medicine and create a network where physicians could securely communicate with one another really spoke to me both as a provider and as an engineer. So I first joined the team informally through that advisory panel.
Q: What do you enjoy most about Doximity’s network?
A: The ability to really communicate not only with your colleagues, but also your patients from a mobile device is not something that physicians really have had at their disposal. With Doximity, if I need to quickly consult a colleague or catch up with a patient after they leave the ER, I can do so simply and securely from the app on my phone. And that incredible convenience has proven to be invaluable in my practice.
Q: What features do you use the most on the Doximity app?
A: The features I use the most are Doximity Dialer and the medical newsfeed. As an ER doctor, I'm regularly communicating with providers in other departments as well as my patients when they leave the department. So I use Dialer multiple times a day. I also read the newsfeed to make sure I know the latest medical research in my specialty.
Throughout the pandemic, Doximity's news resources have been incredibly useful. Not only are the stories up-to-date, as the scientific knowledge around COVID-19 evolves on a daily basis, but I also found it very useful to engage in discussions with colleagues on the network. Getting expert insight and having vigorous debates with other colleagues who are also seeing patients throughout the pandemic has been very helpful. It has truly helped me as a physician to be able to synthesize information I'm receiving from a variety of sources and really incorporate new thinking into how I'm providing care.
Q: Can you tell us more about how you use Doximity’s telehealth tool, Dialer Video?
A: As an emergency medicine physician, I use Dialer Video a lot, particularly since the COVID pandemic. At Northwestern, we've re-engineered our emergency department so that only critical staff are in patient rooms, especially when we're performing procedures. So we've been using Dialer Video within our department to communicate with the rest of the staff when they're outside of the room. I'll also use Dialer Video to follow up with my patients to share lab results, communicate any instructions post-visit.
Q: What is your perspective on the future of telemedicine?
A: I definitely think telemedicine is here to stay. Physicians across all specialties and all corners of the country have learned how to utilize this technology to more efficiently provide care to their patients. I know in my own institution at our emergency department, we're reimagining the concept of a waiting room. It's a tall order in emergency medicine to eliminate a waiting room, but we can certainly leverage technologies like telemedicine to rethink how we provide that patient care and eliminate the need for groups of people waiting in close proximity together.
Q: Why did you decide to pursue a career in medicine, particularly, emergency medicine?
A: I liked the idea of being by someone's side in a critical moment. In emergency medicine, every day is different. You go in and you have to be prepared to deal with a variety of medical issues that your patients may have encountered. And oftentimes, you really have to leverage limited resources in order to create solutions. So, emergency medicine combined the critical care element as well as creativity in medicine which I found really attractive as a career.
Q: How has COVID-19 impacted your practice?
A: To begin with, it's just a humbling experience to have to deal with a disease entity that you're not familiar with. And that removes a whole host of your go-to tools. Practicing in that kind of environment, particularly when your patients are critically ill, is very nerve-wracking. And with the onset of COVID in March last year, myself and many of my colleagues were scrambling to just seek out and provide solutions.
Throughout, I think it's also revealed our resilience both on the provider and patient side where we've become a lot more accepting and understanding one another. We’ve been able to engineer solutions and discover remedies that can provide care. And in some cases, actually prevent patients from having truly negative outcomes. So the pandemic has completely changed how we approach providing care. Some of the processes that we follow in our department, some of the technologies that we leverage, etc has changed in many ways for the better.
Q: What are some of the challenges you face day-to- day as an ER doctor?
A: Day-to-day, ER physicians are faced with a variety of challenges. We have to deal with the fact that we’re practicing in an environment that's not always under our control. Something can happen external to your hospital that changes your practice environment in an instant– COVID-19 being a prime example. And you also have to deal with externalities that position you as a buffer between your patient and some of the issues that the broader healthcare system has. I think those issues day-to-day are both what makes emergency medicine challenging, but often very exciting. COVID-19 has really pushed us to our limits in that regard and it's been a very challenging but also rewarding experience.
Q: In addition to practicing medicine, you work here at Doximity. Can you tell readers more about your role and responsibility at Doximity as VP of Strategy? A: As VP of Strategy at Doximity, my role actually entails wearing a couple of different hats. I help lead our editorial and content teams. Those teams are actually responsible for all of the content that makes it onto the Doximity platform. And we tailor every member’s newsfeed with curated content that is relevant and specific to them. In addition, we take a deep look as to whether or not there might be other apps, technologies, companies, or resources for our users that we might be able to partner with to make Doximity’s platform even more useful.
Q: How has working at the intersection of healthcare and technology impacted your perspective?
A: Working in healthtech has dramatically influenced my practice. I think it makes me that much more interested in focusing on the pain points that could be solved with the help of a technological solution. I like the fact that I have input on both ends of the spectrum. I gain a lot of knowledge by observing these pain points in the hospital and then bring back these insights to Doximity where we can help build solutions for those issues. And really the converse is true as well. When I see teams working at Doximity on solving situations that might not arise in my direct practice, I can certainly leverage that knowledge to help improve the practice of colleagues of mine. So that back and forth has dramatically improved my approach to problem-solving on both ends of the spectrum.
Q: What are some of your key lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: We’ve learned a lot of lessons through the COVID-19 pandemic. I would say, most notably, is the importance of strong communication. I've learned that communication is not just a singular thing. There are multiple forms of communication that take place in the provision of care to any single patient on any given day.
I've been able to leverage technologies like Doximity to improve on all facets of my communication. There is the communication from societies and those who are informing the evolution of guidelines of care to providers like myself through literature and news I might consume on Doximity, my communication with my colleagues through utilizing Dialer, and of course my communicating with my patients to provide them and their families with some peace of mind as they arrive to my ER fearful that they might be critically ill from coronavirus or any other issue that has caused them to suffer to date. These multiple layers of communication being made easy has been a Godsend to me and my colleagues. Having the ability to communicate in multiple contexts using a single tool is irreplaceable. And it has certainly helped me manage my clinical practice as well as my clinical learning throughout the last months.