An Interoperetta in Three Acts
Who knew you could learn so much about the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act in under four minutes?
The Story Behind the Song
I had been thinking about writing a song for HITSP, CCHIT and AHIC for a couple of years, figuring it was time to tie a bow around the four other standards songs I've written - for NCPDP ("The Legend of Bob the DERF" - country & western tune about the standards-setting gunslingers of old), HL7 ("The Patient is Waiting" - a rock ballad), MedBiquitous ("The MedBiq Song" - a la Gilbert and Sullivan) and X12 ("The X12 Song" - R&B pop tune). All these songs are available on my MP3 page.
The inspiration for structure of the song, though, is actually about 20 years old. A classmate from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Dr. John Weigand, did a brilliant skit at our annual student talent show, sung by "The Weigand Trio," about his med school experience. It was three songs in one, just like this one; John used cassette recorders to "perform" the three parts at once. It was hysterical. So when it came time to write a song about three components of harmonizing standards, his idea seemed the perfect vehicle. I hadn't spoken to John since med school, so I looked him up on Google, emailed to make sure this was his original idea (it was) and make sure he was okay with me borrowing it (he was).
I wrote HITECH during a quick family vacation in Florida - mostly on the plane rides - back in March. Kym and Taylor are quite happy it's done so they don't have to listen to me running through the same 35-second song over and over again.This was probably one of the most complex songs I've ever written. Each verse had to layer on top of the other, syllable by syllable. Usually, I write lyrics in a little notebook, scratching out lines and words until it's just right. This one was just too difficult to write a verse at a time, so I had to literally do it on a spreadsheet so I could get it all to line up properly. I snapped a picture of it:
Writing the song turned out to be the easy part. The recording was done on a Zoom H2 (what a great little multi-track recorder!). Since HITECH at Deloitte is keeping me busy more than full time in "real life" work, I did most of the recording, videotaping and editing in the wee hours (just like I'm writing this blog post - after 1am). I did the audio editing using Audacity, the elegant and simple open source multi-track software tool, and the video editing with PowerDirector, the software that came with my JVC Everio, a good-enough camcorder. It was the editing that took forever - getting the timing just right, adding the scrolling captions, editing the audio so everything was balanced and the "sound effects" came out reasonably believable.
In the end, there were a dozen things I would want to do better - especially on the vocals front, but I just didn't want to spend any more time than I absolutely had to to get a decent result. So it is what it is and I hope you enjoy the video. Please let me know what you think - either by posting a comment here or on YouTube or by sending me an email. And if you need some real, serious work done around HITECH, my colleagues and I at Deloitte Consulting would be happy to help. Just send the Deloitte HITECH Response Team an email.
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