Bold Types

Rapping about records – of the medical kind

Jonathan Bush makes his money selling electronic health record systems to doctors across the country. But the chief executive of Watertown-based athenahealth inc. also acknowledges that in general, these software systems are not so great. Doctors tend to find them clunky, hard to use, and hugely time-consuming.

Bush and athenahealth are tapping into the physician angst with a new campaign called “Let Doctors Be Doctors,” designed to get the health care community talking about how to design better medical software. And they’re spreading their message through rap.

The campaign includes a parody of the Jay Z and Alicia Keys hit “Empire State of Mind.” Replace the words “New York” with “EHR” (electronic health record), and you’ve got a song doctors of any generation can jam along to. On lead vocals is ZDoggMD, a rapper and real-life doctor in Las Vegas.


“I’m at that bedside, focused like a laser beam,” he says. “On the patient? Naw, come on. I’m treatin’ the computer screen.”

The message appears to be resonating. It had more than 78,000 views in four days, thanks in part to angsty doctors sharing the link on Twitter.

“We launched this campaign to serve as a platform for doctors to speak out and drive change,” Bush said in a statement. “Health care needs better technology and deserves an acknowledgement of the comical absurdity of its dissatisfied and disconnected state.”

ZDoggMD was more blunt. He ends the song with a “big ups” to athenahealth for admitting that “EHRs suck.”

Priyanka Dayal McCluskey can be reached at priyanka.mccluskey@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @priyanka_dayal.