The Turntable Health Revolution
Dr. Zubin Damania, MD, is an internist and the founder of Turntable Health, an innovative healthcare startup that was part of an ambitious urban revitalization movement spearheaded by Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh. During a 10-year hospitalist career at Stanford, he somehow won clinical teaching awards while simultaneously maintaining a shadow career performing stand-up comedy for medical audiences worldwide. His videos and live Facebook shows, created under the pseudonym ZDoggMD, have gone epidemically viral with a quarter of a billion views on YouTube and Facebook, educating patients and providers while mercilessly satirizing our dysfunctional healthcare system.
In Las Vegas, He made the leap from satire to actionable change by implementing an innovative model of healthcare delivery that promotes wellness at both the individual and community level. Turntable Health, a membership model team-based primary care ecosystem, was a ground-up effort to get healthcare right by restoring the primacy of the human relationship, a concept we call “Health 3.0“. His mission is to teach others what we’ve learned, while inspiring both personal and system-level transformation through storytelling, humor, and music.
Dr. Robbie Pearl, former CEO of The Permanente Medical Group, had this to say. The Medical Group Management Association said, “His rap songs made them laugh, but his message brought his audience to their feet.”
Tampa General Hospital wrote a great piece on his performance there, with CEO John Couris stating: “ZDogg’s message about adjusting and changing the way care is delivered makes all the sense in the world,” he said. “A lot of our technology today does sit between the patient and the doctor, where we need to work on being more patient-centric and more caregiver-centric. The answer is that it can be more of a collaboration with administrators, doctors and nurses. Together we are stronger and can be more effective advocates for our patients.”
On January 31st, 2017 Turntable Health’s Downtown Las Vegas location finalized operations after serving our community for 3 years.
Over that period, Turntable Health provided our downtown Las Vegas community with a level of compassionate medical care that many felt was impossible in the current dysfunctional healthcare non-system. By putting human relationships at the center, our innovative team-based practice helped countless patients while serving as an internationally-recognized model of “re-personalized,” holistic medicine. By transforming care from a transaction to back into a relationship, our team enabled amazing outcomes for both our patients and our community, inspiring countless others to join the movement to build Health 3.0 together.
Turntable Health 3.0But just as our patients’ health can’t be divorced from the rest of their lives, their social connections, and their communities, so too the economics of healthcare can’t exist in a vacuum. From its inception, we worked hard to find progressive ways to finance Turntable’s forward-looking model in the setting of a “Sick Care” system that simply doesn’t pay to prevent disease or produce outcomes that matter to our patients and their families. We forged an innovative partnership with the now-closed Nevada Health CO-OP that allowed us to make a difference in the lives of so many vulnerable people, many of whom have been marginalized in the current system. We partnered with small businesses to enhance well-being and productivity for their employees, many of whom fell through the cracks of the Affordable Care Act. We served individuals with a fee-based membership to access unlimited care, with steep discounts on lab testing and other diagnostic costs. And we partnered with large union plans to provide outcomes-driven, personalized care for their members in Las Vegas. Turntable’s atmosphere of innovation, inclusion, and above all, fun, was something exceedingly rare in the healthcare industry.
Unfortunately, the economic realities of the Las Vegas market meant we could no longer sustainably offer care in our downtown location, so doing the right thing for our patients meant transitioning their care to other local providers by January 31st, 2017. We flatly refused to compromise when pressured by payers to offer fee-for-service options, or to begin charging a co-pay. We firmly believe that healthcare is a relationship, not a transaction.
Although Turntable Health has closed its Downtown location, this is only the end of the beginning for the Health 3.0 movement. Turntable Health proved that this care model WORKS, for both our patients and our clinicians. Now it’s time for the rest of the System to catch up. We’re more passionate than ever about team-based, relationship-driven preventative care and we will continue to evangelize the 3.0 movement so that broader healthcare system transformation will allow us to return to Las Vegas to resume the work we began.