Uli K. Chettipally, MD, MPH is a physician, researcher, author, speaker, and innovator. He is passionate about delivering artificial intelligence-enabled solutions to physicians to improve patient outcomes. As the Chief Technology Officer of CREST Network, he designed, developed and implemented a region-wide clinical decision support platform to deliver real-time predictive analytics at the point of care - for which he received the "Pioneer" award for Innovation from Kaiser Permanente. He is currently the president of InnovatorMD, a healthcare innovation company. His other roles include Chairman, Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, San Francisco Bay Area chapter; President-elect, San Mateo County Medical Association and Convener, InnovatorMD Global Summit. He recently published a book: "Punish the Machine! The Promise of Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare".
Q: Why did you go to medical school? What made you want to become a physician? Why did you also choose to pursue an MPH?
Growing up, I always wanted to become a scientist and an inventor. I was fascinated with discovering and creating new things. I also felt that becoming a physician carried a lot of prestige and respect from the community. To fulfill these two goals I became a physician and a scientist. As a physician, you can make a difference in the life of patients one person at a time. But as a scientist, you can affect many people’s lives with one discovery. After medical school, I felt that I needed more knowledge and skills to be a scientist. That is the reason why I got into an MPH program while working as a Research Fellow. Getting an MPH helped me learn how to affect the health of a population at scale.
Q: What’s a big risk you took (professionally or personally) that really paid off?
I was in a comfortable position professionally as the Chairman of my emergency department when an opportunity came along. I had a chance to do a healthcare technology startup. I was curious. It was very tempting (considering the state of my mind at the time) and I took the bait! I took a year off from my job and went on an unpaid sabbatical to do this startup. I formed a team and we quickly raised money in our first round. We built the product. Then we geared up to do the first pilot and went to raise our second round. Right at that moment, the market crashed! The dotcom bust happened. We could not raise any more capital and had to eventually shut down the company. Financially, it was a loss. But professionally that experience was priceless. Living in Silicon Valley, I learned so much about entrepreneurship and technology during that year. This experience has elevated my thinking about the role of technology in medicine in general. It expanded my knowledge and made me think about possibilities.
Q: What’s the craziest thing on your bucket list?
I want to go to a remote village. Live there as a local for a month with no connection to the outside world. And document the life there in photographs.
Q: What’s a skill you want to master and why?
Composing music. I love music and I have played drums on and off. I experimented with Garage Band on my Apple laptop. It is so exhilarating! I want to take the time to learn from the experts. Creating something that brings happiness to people is the ultimate expression of creativity.
Q: What books are currently on your nightstand?
- “Jim Allison: Breakthrough – This is What a Hero Looks Like” by Bill Haney. www.BreakthroughDoc.com
- “Envisioning Information” by Edward Tufte. www.EdwardTufte.com
Q: Who inspires you and why?
Many people inspire me. My wife and children are constant inspirations: watching how they overcome their hurdles and build on their strengths. Jim Allison and Edward Tufte are my current heroes. I watched a documentary about Jim Allison, the Nobel Prize winner. How do you continue to pursue a dream that takes a lifetime of dedication, overcoming hurdles and rising up from setbacks? Reading Edward Tufte’s book has shone a light on his life and perusing your passions
Q: What would the title of your autobiography be?
Living Your Dream
Q: What game show would you be great at?
American Ninja Warrior – just kidding! Maybe as a member of the audience.
Q: What’s the worst job you’ve ever had, and what did you learn from that experience?
As a Research Fellow, I was running blood pressure experiments on sheep. We would feed them different diets and measure their blood pressure changes. During the weekends, I had to go clean up the stalls and feed the sheep. The staff did not work during weekends and as a trainee, you are expected to do it! The sheep were great but the smell took me a while to getting used to. What did I learn? S*it happens! (Alternate: It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it)
Q: If you had a time machine, would you go back in time, or into the future? Why?
I would go into the future.
I want to see unnecessary suffering gone. Poverty eradicated. Disease prevented with new science. Crime totally controlled because it does not pay. Wars disappeared because we can negotiate peacefully. In other words, I want to see the human race fully evolved in the pursuit of its highest potential.
Learn more about Dr. Chettipally
The Physician Innovation Network thanks Dr. Chettipally for his interaction and interest in our platform. We commend his research work and industry thought leadership.