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Who Is ZDoggMD? (Yes, He is a Real Doctor)

Session 29

Who is ZDoggMD? Yes, He Is a Real Doctor

In this episode, I talk with Dr. Zubin Damania, a.k.a. ZDoggMD, a hospitalist, healthcare visionary and internet personality. We talk about his path to medicine, his struggles, and the exciting Downtown Project in Las Vegas, Nevada.

When ZDoggMD knew he wanted to become a doctor:

  • Born to parents who are doctors
  • Doing medicine as a rebellion to spite his parents but liking science at the same time
  • Having idealism at the back of his mind to make a difference by helping people
  • Finding the actual practice to be disconcerting

The negative side of medicine:

As a physician, you have the stress of running your own business when you're not trained to do that.Click To Tweet

His medical school years:

  • Going to UC Berkeley as an undergrad in 3 years
  • Nothing was conceptually too difficult
  • Not getting prepared for his first clinical year during the third year: Pass-Fail-Honors
  • Faking his way through the process as he was getting incredibly depressed
  • Finding the importance of getting support from colleagues
  • The haphazard system of having varying degrees of experience

[Related episode: A Burnout Story and What You Can Do to Avoid It]

His three-year undergrad experience at Berkeley:

  • Major in biology and minor in music
  • Starting to get tired of college by his second year
  • Spending his fourth year at a Berkeley lab doing genetics research that he liked
  • Realizing research wasn’t something he wanted to do and reaffirming that going to medical school was the right answer
  • Describing his Berkeley experience as the most brutal in terms of competition
  • The ultimate goal as better patient care
The ultimate goal is better patient care.Click To Tweet

Choosing his specialty:

  • Being influenced by a GI doc he knew
  • Entering an internal medicine residency with the intent of doing a GI fellowship
  • Realizing he didn’t like GI and the primary care setup
  • Not having a job plan after residency, taking time off, and going back to clinical medicine
  • Taking a hospitalist job at Stanford

The trends he’s seeing in medicine:

  • The super-specialization as a reaction to high debt loads and salary differences
  • Reimbursement, level of respect, and basic job structure as the main drivers for people staying away from primary care
What's keeping physicians away from primary care? Reimbursement, level of respect, and basic job structure.Click To Tweet

His ideas for fixing primary care:

  • Fair compensation with a job structure where they could help people
  • More precision functions taken over by other entities like nurse practitioners or health coaches
  • Taking insurance out of primary care and basing it on a flat-fee membership model

Ways to motivate patients to go to a doctor:

  • Taking away any transactional barrier
  • Paying for the overall relationship with the team rather than a transactional, episodic visit
  • Fixing the current service fees system and replace it with a more sensible one for both providers and patients

ZDoggMD describes the Downtown Project in Las Vegas

  • Starting with a 7,000-sq.ft. clinic in downtown Las Vegas.
  • First piece: Financial disruption: Get insurance out!
    • Funding through the flat-fee membership of patients
  • Second piece: The care team: The village-type scenario
    • Other community programs like yoga, meditation, and nutrition classes as part of the membership to tie together all the clinic members and the patients with the community they’re in.
  • Third piece: Proprietary EMR they’re developing with their partner

Links and Other Resources:

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