Profiles in Telehealth: Buhr Duong - Senior Product Designer
Our senior product designer has found himself in a career that enables him to make a difference for clinicians using technology and design. Learn more about his journey to Wheel and how his career came full-circle in healthcare.
What’s your role at Wheel?
I'm a Senior Product Designer at Wheel. I have the opportunity to design products that address the needs of a broad set of folks, including clinicians, clients, and teammates. The types of problems we're solving at Wheel for these groups of people are so vastly different from one another, yet so intertwined. It makes the challenge of designing unique products and elegant systems exciting.
What’s your background? What did you do before working with Wheel?
Like most Asian parents, mine wanted me to pursue a career in healthcare. And like most "good" Asian kids, I listened to what they wanted -- I studied Human Biology at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).
After graduating from UCSD I fully intended to become a Nurse Practitioner. I needed to finish a final pre-requisite course called "Research Methods in Psychology" to get into a master's program in nursing. — This course put me through a mental exercise that made me re-evaluate my career choice and parts of my life. I started enrolling in graphic design classes as a creative outlet. There were many nights when I would stay up until 4 am playing around with Adobe tools and creating artwork. This ritual was a signal to me that my passion was in craft and making things and that I needed to pursue a career in the creative field instead. Fast forward to a few months later, and I moved to San Francisco, started an MFA program at the Academy of Art University, and got my first job as a product designer. There are things that I learned in my "previous life" as an aspiring nurse practitioner that I still use every day as a product designer. I enjoy my job because it marries the creative aspect of design with the problem-solving methodology of science.
Outside of work, I enjoy traveling and experiencing different cultures. Being able to adapt to the customs, learn and speak the language confidently, and respectfully interact with locals is so satisfying to me. It's even better if the food is spicy.
Why did you join the Wheel team?
I joined Wheel in January 2019 as employee #10 (maybe tied for that one with Ladan Bourneuf). The decision to join was a no-brainer for me.
Wheel has a meaningful mission with smart people. The particular approach the founders were using to solve such a difficult problem in healthcare seemed extremely special to me.
I knew I wanted to go on this journey with them. Also, as someone who was going to pursue a career in nursing, it felt like a full-circle moment for me.
Every day on the job is entirely different for me. As a designer at the company, I get to work through the end-to-end design process for a variety of initiatives. One day, I might be testing a prototype with our care team and getting feedback. Another day, I might be designing a micro-interaction for a UI component. For me, the most exciting part is getting an extremely vague problem or requirement and trying to pull together resources to understand it more deeply.
What’s your recent Wheel Moment of Reward?
It wasn't just one moment but a collection of moments strung together that made me feel like Wheel's making a difference.
When I first joined Wheel, it was immediately clear to me that the entire team had a deep empathy for clinicians. Everyone knew clinicians were underappreciated, overworked, and burnt out. At the time, we didn't have a label for it, but we always tried to put the clinician first — it was one of the reasons why Wheel was created.
A month or two later, I had the opportunity to talk to a few clinicians on our care team. I asked them what has been going well for them while working with us. Without hesitation, all of them individually said our team's support. It was the first time I got to hear about how differently we interacted with them compared to other companies.
Today, I'm over a year into my tenure and not a single week has gone by without a friendly message from a clinician that says how great our team has been to work with. That’s important to me.
What do you think the future of healthcare holds?
There's so much to be excited about for the future of healthcare! One of the problems I really care about in the industry is access to quality care for underserved communities. Frequently, care facilities in those communities are underfunded, understaffed, require clinicians to have cultural competency and advanced communication skills, and more. But as more tech companies enter the space, we'll start to see more sophisticated healthcare software become open-source. Tools that were once inaccessible will finally be realistic options in helping support the needs of underserved communities, maybe in creative ways we haven't even dreamt of yet.
Thanks, Buhr, for sharing your thoughts and being an essential member of the #WheelCareTeam!
Interested in joining our team? Check out the latest career opportunities with Wheel.
Learn more about our team in our staff profiles with Ladan Bourneuf, Lead Clinician Advocate, Thomas Bazerghi, Operations Manager, and Dr. Rafid Fadul, Chief Medical Officer at Wheel.