In Doctors' Declaration Of Independence, I highlighted a growing movement of doctors who are done with the status quo healthcare system; they want to be independent of an oppressive system that is at odds with why they went into medicine. The Story Behind Epidemic Doctor Burnout And Suicide Statistics details the abuse doctors receive in today's under-performing status quo that leads to the destruction of doctor well-being. It's simply common sense that abusing doctors as well as other clinicians isn't the path to achieving the Quadruple Aim that is evident in the best-performing organizations.
Naturally, a broad-based grassroots movement such as civil rights or unbreaking healthcare has many people playing a critical role to drive societal change. For example, Regina Holliday has been referred to as the health care's Rosa Parks. In The Big Heist film, we are highlighting the leaders of the movement to have health care realize its full potential. There are many clinicians who are leaders and entrepreneurs completely reinventing their field including strong doctor-writers such as Atul Gawande, Marty Makary, Eric Topol, Bob Wachter and others. However, the doctor who has established the voice that is reaching the broadest audience is Dr. Zubin Damania through his alter ego, ZDoggMD. Damania's childhood hero was Weird Al Yankovic and now he's the medical equivalent.
Damania is particularly appropriate for the role: he's a practitioner of the foundation of a properly functioning healthcare system -- value-based primary care. Damania leads Turntable Health which partners with Iora Health which has a tagline that speaks to what ZDoggMD sings about -- restoring humanity to health care.
Doctors are the face of medicine. However, if you review the 10 Healthcare Industry Tricks Used To Redistribute Profits Away From Employers, doctors have very little to do with what is driving the economic devastation by the healthcare industry. Most doctors were indoctrinated not to worry about costs and to defer to authority. In my talks with medical groups, doctors are appalled to find that the system that they are the face of has created a 20-year long economic depression for the middle class and are dooming millennials to being indentured servants to the healthcare industry unless something is radically changed.
In a short period time, ZDoggMD videos have evolved from humorous, low-production-value music parodies to high-production-value works of art. They all clearly communicate important messages. The latest, 7 Years (A Life in Medicine), received over a million views from doctors, nurses, and other clinicians in under a week.
Recently, Damania and I spoke at an industry conference. We found that what he describes as "Health 3.0" directly relates to the Health Rosetta principles I regularly write and speak about. For entirely logical reasons, the ZDoggMD videos have focused on issues doctors and nurses, in particular, face every day working inside of an woefully-performing system. However, we both recognize that to spark health care's transformation via film and entertainment, it is only a partnership between clinicians and citizens that can drive broad society-wide change. Clinicians can't do it alone. Nor, can citizens do it alone.
[Disclosure: A LEED-like certification is being built around the Health Rosetta. As I've disclosed many times, the Health Rosetta is an open-source reference blueprint for how public or private purchasers of healthcare should procure health services and a set of guiding principles for health-related organizations (providers, technology companies, life sciences, wellness, etc) to succeed in the new health ecosystem. In my role as managing partner of the Hf Quad Aim Fund, a seed-stage venture fund, the Health Rosetta is the foundation of our investment thesis. In addition, practitioners of the Health Rosetta are a core storyline for an upcoming satirical film about the healthcare system of which I am the executive producer.]
The following summarizes grievances various parties have with the abysmally performing system that have been or will be addressed by ZDoggMD parodies:
- Doctors: Working as glorified billing clerks to insurance companies and are abused by the system leads to burnout
- Nurses: Volume-driven disregard for patient safety & understaffing cause major stress (focus on computer data entry instead of bedside care)
- Middle class: Healthcare's hyperinflation caused an economic depression & is #1 driver of bankruptcy
- Millennials: Their health care "bill" makes their college debt look small and will make them indentured servants to healthcare
- School leaders & advocates: Healthcare has stolen budgets & poor public health creates challenges for students that manifest in the classroom
- Seniors and soon-to-be seniors: Risky, uncoordinated care is frustrating & costly; Nest Eggs have been crushed
- People dealing with end-of-life: We're creating unnecessary misery in waning days (at great expense to families/taxpayers)
If you aren't familiar with ZDoggMD videos, the following are links to some of the specific issues addressed:
- Damania talks about combining purpose & passion with medicine and how we only spend 4% of healthcare budgets on primary care while the rest is generally a byproduct of undermined primary care.
- In EHR State of Mind, ZDoggMD sings about how EHRs are a glorified billing platform with some patient stuff tacked on.
- In Doc Vader vs. the hospital administrator, he tackles a serious point about how hospital administrators have contributed to the opioid crisis.
- In his TEDMED talk, Damania describes an insane typical day as hospitalist and later talks about the awakening of doctors, nurses leading them to rise up and take a stand.
- In Ain’t The Way to Die, ZDoggMD explores the issues around the end-of-life misery the system can inflict on patients.
Damania's message particularly resonates as there is no field that is more focused on humanity than clinical care; yet we're falling so short as athenahealth CEO, Jonathan Bush said, “I think the biggest problem with healthcare today is not its cost – which is a big problem – but for all that money – it’s not an expression of our humanity.
With a rapidly growing following and his powerful voice, Damania is becoming the Martin Luther King of the Unbreak Healthcare movement that puts the well-being of individuals and clinicians over a flawed healthcare system that simultaneously under-performs on value and health outcomes. One could imagine that if MLK were alive today, he'd be using tools such as Facebook Live to further the civil rights movement. In the Facebook live video below, Damania speaks to the "Z-pac" (his community) about the Unbreak Healthcare movement. This will give you a preview of what's coming including a LEED-like certification and how clinicians of all types are stepping up to ensure a much better future for humanity.
This article was also published in Forbes
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