As Doximity has grown to over a million clinicians across the United States there’s no doubt our data-driven culture has been integral to helping our network grow on a daily basis. Across every team and role, we’re thinking about what metrics matter to us, and how we can optimize our users’ experience across our products and services. On top of investing in machine learning models and other modern technologies, we constantly go back to the numbers to find new ways to move the needle with our data.

But data alone can’t give you all the insights necessary to build a great product. Users are more than records in a SQL database. In order to understand our users and find more ways to create value for them, we focus on getting to know them, and there’s no better way to do that than with good old fashioned conversations.

As we’ve scaled, Doximity has found a few tried and true methods of getting to know our clinician users. These face-to-face opportunities have been arguably more powerful than any dashboard for defining product strategy and developing user empathy. Here are a few ways we form personal relationships with our users to create better experiences for everyone in our network.

We bring users in for onsite interviews. A lot.

At the time of writing this post, I have three user interviews already scheduled for next week. Two are to discuss a feature we are slowly rolling out, while the other is to discuss a potential feature we are considering building. We don’t build products in a silo, but instead, make sure to bring users into the office or onto Google Hangouts to show them what we’re working on and ask what we should be working on to make their lives better and more productive.

Clinicians in particular are extremely busy, so our product teams work closely with marketing in order to make user interviews as efficient and productive as possible. We learn a lot in a matter of 30-60 minutes a few times a week, but the value in these sessions goes beyond the on-the-spot feedback. User interviews allows us to build relationships with our network, and ultimately create experiences that strike at a core of what our audience needs and wants. We may have a rapidly growing user base, but we care about each interaction and experience. Bringing folks into the office to share their thoughts and hopes for our products gives us insights that go far beyond any database query will, and ultimately help keep us real and honest about what we’re trying to do.

We have doctors who work for us full-time

For a product management team building a niche social network, it’s an unbelievable luxury to work with doctors and clinicians on a daily basis. We get rapid feedback over lunch and can easily grab a quick coffee if we need to understand something that we might not otherwise know unless we had gone through medical school ourselves.

Our Head of Search is an Internal Medicine MD, and our VP of Insights still does Emergency Medicine rounds a few days a month. One of our co-founders is an MD. Many of the people leading our products and thinking about how to create a better experience for our users are users themselves. While this might be commonplace for many other companies, it’s much more difficult for a company that focuses on a specific industry.

By having experts in-house, everyone wins. Our product and development teams can glean quick insights from people they sit next to and ultimately we can have more confidence that we are on the pulse of what matters to the people for whom we’re building.

We host an annual Medical Leadership Summit

Since the start, Doximity has focused on bringing a diverse and savvy group of clinicians together to discuss the company’s initiatives, challenges, and future. We do this in the form of our Medical Leadership Summit, a once a year event where we bring doctors into our office and run a day-long series of feedback groups. We break up the day into different sessions ranging from whiteboarding to discussing new ideas to prototyping opportunities where we ask folks to test out new features. One of our most popular features, the Dialer in the Doximity mobile app, was the result of feedback and brainstorming at our summit.

Our most recent Summit brought in over 60 medical professionals from various parts of the industry. We strive every day to build a strong community of users, and for us, that starts with having a brilliant set of advisors who understand the day-today of our audience because they are living it.

We go where the users go: medical conferences

We want to understand what our users are excited about and what they are interested in learning, and oftentimes that means going to events and conferences they attend. Every year we attend dozens of medical conferences, using each as an opportunity to step into the shoes of that particular demographic and understand their passions and interests.

These opportunities aren’t just limited to marketing and PR - we frequently send product, engineering and other team members to conferences. These provide an invaluable opportunity to generate empathy between teammates and the clinicians we serve. We believe that every member of our company should understand the ‘why’ behind our efforts to make clinicians more productive. Getting to meet folks on their turf at the events they want to attend helps forge relationships and learn.

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Our efforts to get to know our users better and forge relationships are unending. Despite being the largest network of clinicians in the country, we still obsess over the experience we create for each individual user, and oftentimes that starts by taking the time to have lunch or a cup of coffee. Data will always be critical to our mission of making doctors and medical practitioners more productive, but nothing beats listening to a story and getting to know someone.

Sound interesting? We’re hiring. Apply here or send me a message at sdeluca@doximity.com if you want to learn more about how we’re building the largest network for clinicians ever.

Be sure to follow Doximity Engineering @dox_engineering if you'd like to be notified about updates to this blog post.

Huge thanks to Sarah Mail and Bruno Miranda for editing, and Hannah Frank for the epic illustrations