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Vegas doctor, formerly from Jersey, likes what he sees at Hackensack Meridian event

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Las Vegas-based Dr. Zubin Damania is known for his skits as Doc Vader and ZDoggMD.
Las Vegas-based Dr. Zubin Damania is known for his skits as Doc Vader and ZDoggMD. - ()

Hackensack Meridian Health’s production Tuesday included a choir ensemble, a skit featuring the two co-CEOs, a singing of “Happy Birthday” to Lloyd, a presentation by Las Vegas-based Dr. Zubin Damania —  otherwise known by his personalities Doc Vader and ZDoggMD — as well as presentations by two executives, Chief Strategy Officer Jim Blazar and Chief Innovation Officer Dr. Andrew Pecora.

A key component of the presentations Tuesday was to highlight the many ways in which health care is changing, and how HMH is planning to keep up with those changes.

“For years, the ecosystem has been designed, largely, around the provider,” Blazar said. “Our processes, protocols and practices have often been designed without of the voice of the customer, instead based upon provider and payor needs.”

And rather than being patient-centric, a common buzzword in the industry today, Blazar said the shift needs to move to one with a level playing field for all stakeholders.

“We need to be human-centered.  And, in our human-centered model, we partner with patients and consumers to not only meet their needs, but exceed their expectations,” Blazar said. “I want to emphasize, we are no longer in the hospital business.  We are in the health care business.  As a result, all the continuum must work together and they all must create value. That is our strategic advantage and the foundation of our strategic plan.”

The system received a glowing endorsement from Damania, originally a Jersey boy from Morristown who grew up in California and currently resides in Las Vegas.

Damania, whose clinic in Vegas closed in January due to economic challenges, is known for his YouTube videos highlighting problems in the health system.

In fact, Montclair Kimberley Academy is where he first got a taste for the performing arts.

“They taught us ballet and the arts, and that’s where I picked up the aptitude for the arts, in New Jersey,” he said. “It’s nice to be back.”

He said he was impressed by the goals and ambitions of HMH.

“They are big and integrated, which means they have leverage. Which means they have the ear of the government, the ear of the insurers and the ear of patients, and, as such, they have built this really cool brand,” Damania said.

The industry has been faced with aggressive changes from the government in recent years, mostly led by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“It’s an economic thing that’s led by government,” Damania said. “It’s a horrible partnership between the government and business that has been oppressing actual outcomes.”

But, he added, it’s all well-intended and the government isn’t all bad. In fact, a single-payer system might be the best option.

“But we need to get the care model right first. It’s not yet,” Damania said. “It’s still the vestiges of this old system mixed with an over mechanized new system.”

Asked whether he upsets industry experts with his videos, Damania said for the most part, no.

“The only people that get angry are the really stodgy people who feel like my voice is inappropriate, but they are a minority,” he said. “Everyone thinks they are doing it right.”

Which is why he was impressed by the invitation to the HMH event.

“What’s remarkable about these guys is … they are willing to have me come and say a lot of what is being built is wrong. And they understand it’s a stepping stone to the next thing.”

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