EHR song parody pokes fun at serious usability frustrations

'No one is really listening to us, so maybe we need to raise awareness and stand up and let our voices be heard'
By Michelle Ronan Noteboom
10:24 AM
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ZDoggMD

Innovation all around, but it ain't in healthcare
Internet and apps for you, but we get ancient software
Welcome to that EHR, go live and it don't stop
Uncle Sam promoted it, but gone is the interop

-From "EHR State of Mind" by ZDoggMD

The latest video by doctor/rapper ZDoggMD may not win a Grammy, but it likely strikes a chord with clinicians frustrated by the inefficiencies of their EHRs.

"Electronic medical records need to exist and they need to get better, but they need the voice of clinicians and providers and care team members and nurses and pharmacists," explained ZDoggMD, aka Zubin Damania, MD, founder and CEO of Turntable Health and ZDoggMD. "The EMR video highlights that no one is really listening to us, so maybe we need to raise awareness and stand up and let our voices be heard."

"EHR State of Mind," which parodies the Jay-Z/Alicia Keys duet, "Empire State of Mind," touches on the lack of interoperability between systems, "meaningless abuse," and the outdated technologies that the "whole team definitely hates." The video is part of a larger initiative called Let Doctors Be Doctors, which criticizes EHRs for distracting providers from "their real work."

ZDoggMD is no stranger to raising awareness and dialog about often under-discussed healthcare topics, having previously produced videos about end of life care and prescription drug abuse. Health IT vendor athenahealth is behind the Let Doctors Be Doctors campaign, which includes a subtle athenahealth marketing message.

"We're behind the movement to encourage doctors and care teams to speak out on the issue and to drive change," said Holly Spring, director of communications for athenahealth. "We are encouraging caregivers to speak out about why EHRs aren't good enough and more importantly, give feedback on how they should be improved."

According to athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush, his company created the campaign because "everyone is pretending" that current EMR design and usability is "okay."

Bush said he feels like there is a "code of silence and a lot of denial around what is going on in the industry. The federal government ganged up with marvelous intentions and forced everyone on to a series of products and an approach to information management that these people had already rejected with their wallets as an unacceptable way of managing information.

"Ironically everyone is now asking why we are stuck with these systems that don't talk and that they can't afford to run," he added.

Physician dissatisfaction with EHRs is a real concern, regardless of whether the Let Doctors Be Doctors campaign is a true call to action, marketing hype, and/or an inside-industry poke at the abundance of "crappy software."

According to a recent American EHR survey of 940 providers:

  • 42 percent thought their EHR system's ability to improve efficiency was difficult or very difficult
  • 72 percent thought their EHR system's ability to decrease workload was difficult or very difficult
  • 54 percent found their EHR system increases total operating costs
  • 43 percent said they had yet to overcome the productivity challenges related to their EHR system.

As a practice physician, Damania's hope is that the video encourages providers to start thinking about how EMRs can be improved and offer constructive feedback.

"If even five people sit up and say, 'I hadn't really thought of it this way, that we have been accepting this paradigm, this horrible archaic software that gets in between us and our patients, and how will I make it better,' then we have succeeded," said Damania.

EHR / crappy software some vendor made us / there's something you CAN do / give us a new chart / stand up and make our voices be heard, let doctors be doctors / we need a new chart new chart new chart....