October 4, 2012
Zubin Damania is a board-certified internist, who spent ten years practicing at Stanford Hospital. He’s also a rapper, who recently ventured into pop with “One Injection,” a music video about vaccines to the tune of One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful.”
Damania’s rapping career started when Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, who had become his friend, asked what he would do if he could do anything. “He has a way of really poking at what you’re about,” recalls Damania. He thought back to worshipping Weird Al as a child, and minoring in music in college. The answer became clear: he would want to make funny but educational music videos about health. And so he did.
As ZDoggMD’s fame increased among burned-out medical residents, Damania spent more and more of his evenings recording videos. Once all the doctors and nurses at Stanford found out, they begged to be extras in the videos, too.
When Hsieh offered him the opportunity to move to Vegas and rethink health care for the Downtown Project, Damania knew he would regret saying no. By then, he had realized there was something wrong with traditional medical care. A system based on reimbursements was incentivizing doctors to maximize profits and defend against lawsuits, he observed, rather than make patients healthy.
“I liken it to being stuck in the Matrix,” says Damania. “Suddenly, something snaps and you get an opportunity to unplug – klunk – and you look at it and go, ‘Oh my god, this system is a disaster.’”
In Vegas, Damania will be questioning all our assumptions about medical care. He might interact with patients over Skype for minor complaints, or come visit their apartments. They might pay one fee for all primary-care services, then have insurance for other visits. They might order prescriptions online. They might have one over-arching medical record that’s stored in their credit card.
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