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August 1, 2017

‘E-heath is great. But if we lose the analogue heart, then we’ve missed it’

Zubin Damania aka ZDoggMD, was practicing at Stanford University for 10 years. Then he decided to switch his career to something completely different: since then he has been writing and performing comedic raps as ZDoggMD, an internet celebrity known for his music videos, parodies, and comedy sketches about medical issues as well as systemic issues with healthcare.

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An ICT&health interview by: Lucien Engelen and Yvonne Keijzers.

‘I’ve always been fascinated by music and the power that it had to move peoples’ emotions. My other fascination always been  science and medicine, and the idea that we could improve people’s lives through technology and science. What I saw lacking, was the connection between the emotional component and the and the science component.’

In medicine we are trained to really separate those pieces. To compartmentalize and to not use our intuition and our emotional side. We have fewer and fewer stories and give more facts. That  seems to be how it’s evolved over time in science and medicine.  I felt that this was wrong, because we were seeing the failure of this reduction in medicine. When I started really acutely noticing that, was when I was in practice as a hospital doctor at Stanford for several years ago. 

Patients on a treadmill, doctors burning out

I started noticing that all our patients were just on a on a recurring treadmill, where they would be discharged from the hospital and they would come back with the same thing. We hatched them up and they would go back again. And nothing was changing. And on top of that I was noticing my colleagues were burning out. They were having very great difficulty maintaining enthusiasm. They were losing empathy becoming that disconnected.

And so, in all of that I realized I was having all the same problems myself. I was getting disconnected. Feeling like I was not living a story that was mine. So I was living the story of the health care system, which was really nobody’s story. This was just a monster.

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The making of the music was a way to reconnect personally with myself with my core passion, which was moving people’s emotions. Making them laugh or making them cry or making them feel something.

I thought why can’t that be a way that we actually focus on preventing disease, On improving our medical system. On taking care of each other as clinicians as well as our patients. So that was how it started in 2010, when I just kind of threw my hands up and said if I don’t do this I’m going to become one of those doctors that I’ve always thought  I would never become. 

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