Health IT

The growing legend of athenahealth’s Jonathan Bush

Bush’s eventful week made a few people wonder whether he’d fly into action for other medical do-gooder deeds,

Profane badass. Renaissance leader. Super hero.

Those were some of the reactions on social media to a photo this week capturing athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush crouched over an unconscious man trying to save his life with a couple of construction workers.

His act also underscored his status as a larger than life character across healthcare.

jonathan bush w heart attack victimHis sudden and by-chance intervention to help a stricken man on the streets of San Francisco prompted a few on social media to joke on other opportunities to fly into action for medical do-gooder deeds.

Healthcare insiders sharing the story on Facebook joked about Bush’s potential to start curbside liposuction, or about that one time in college he reset the nose of Health and Human Services Chief Technology Officer Susannah Fox when she broke it playing rugby.

A Boston Globe article on Bush noted that prior to the incident, he had come out of Walgreens with an ice pack (rumor has it he currently has a torn ACL). I could envision him offering some sage advice to less experienced JP Morgan Healthcare Conference visitors on how to avoid muscle strain navigating the steep slopes of San Francisco running from meeting to meeting.

It could prompt him to go on a motivational speaker tour for crisis management with tips like: Don’t stand idly by or go to your nearest social network when something goes horribly wrong. Take action!

One key part of why Bush has become a cult of personality is his willingness to own what he says rather than distancing himself from controversial comments by framing them on background.

For example, he’s also not afraid to make fun of himself as with his antics at the HISTalk party HIStalkapalooza at HIMSS last year with Epic CEO Judy Faulkner.

As a cloud-based EMR provider he has been in an ongoing interoperability debate with Faulkner and suggested at one point that he would pay Epic’s fee to participate in CommonWell if she was too cheap.



He’s also teamed up with ZDoggMD to rally against poor EHR design, although he wasn’t in the video shown here:

jbush is Ali GHe also likes getting into character, like Ali G, as he did for a More Disruption Please event.

And then there’s his boozy, provocative interviews — like the one he did with us at HIMSS in 2015.

He’s become the healthcare Chuck Norris. You can’t beat Jonathan Bush because he’s Jonathan Bush and no one messes with Jonathan Bush.