Dr. Jay on HuffPost Live!
It’s 3 A.M. and you’re frantically clicking Google results for “my neck is making a weird creaking sound am I dying + tumors” or “is pregnancy AT ALL possible after three months,” again. Now there’s Sherpaa, a startup that connects you with doctors instead of misspelled Yahoo! Answers remedies whenever you need to know what is going on inside your body. We spoke with Sherpaa’s Dr. Ida Santana about how the service empowers marginalized groups of people who often have trouble accessing health care — not just paranoid web-surfers.
Meet Dr. Ezra Feinberg. Ezra is our clinical psychologist. We’ve come to re-think the standard $250, 50-minute weekly therapy session. Sometimes you only need a 15 minute chat to feel safe and comforted. Sometimes you may need visits over the next month with a therapist to help you get through a breakup, or you may need intensive therapy with a psychiatrist for longer to help you overcome a serious issue. All our clients are different, so we’re envisioning ways to make mental healthcare work best and most affordably for you. Ezra will guide you to exactly who and what you need.
What’s your favorite thing about being a psychologist?
Working one-on-one with patients is definitely my favorite thing about being a psychologist. The therapeutic process is intense and challenging, but helping people to improve their lives is the reason I got into it in the first place.
What makes NYC special to you?
It’s the energy. There’s no other city with this kind of energy, and it brings out the character in everyone. It’s also a pain in the ass, but I’ll never leave New York.
Besides being a psychologist, how do you spend your time?
Time with friends and family of course, and lots of time reading, seeing films, listening to music, playing music, exercise, and eating delicious meals prepared by the various culinary geniuses in my life.
Tell us about your decision to become a psychologist.
It hit me shortly after I graduated from college. I thought “that is something I could do” which was immediately followed by the thought “but not right now.” It would be another five years before I entered my doctoral program. I knew it was a big decision and I wanted to be ready.
We all know healthcare is broken. What is it about Sherpaa that makes
you feel like you’re part of the solution?
The “care” part of our current healthcare system has gone unaccounted for. By providing access to doctors and specialists right away Sherpaa makes people feel cared for, and feeling cared for is a crucial step in becoming healthy, no matter what the ailment.
It’s hard describing how we do things here at Sherpaa. Stories always help!
So, with every client’s permission, we’re sharing real life stories that happened here at Sherpaa.
We received a phone call from a client complaining of sudden onset shoulder and back pain that was worse upon taking breaths. Based on the series of standardized questions we ask each and every patient with these symptoms, we narrowed our potential diagnoses to musculoskeletal back pain vs. a pneumothorax. A pneumothorax (pl. pneumothoraces) is an abnormal collection of air or gas in the pleural space that separates the lung from the chest wall and which may interfere with normal breathing. It can be a serious emergency and we needed to act fast. We had three options:
Immediately send this client to the ER
An urgent care center
Or directly to the radiologist
We knew the absolute fastest way to determine if this was a pneumothorax was sending this patient directly to the radiologist. So we called up the radiologist and within 30 minutes the patient went to the radiologist and we had the results. Fortunately, there was no pneumothorax. It was just muscle pain and we had the gold standard test to prove it.
If we would have sent the client to the ER or the urgent care center:
They would have asked the same questions and done a physical exam
Test: Chest X-ray
Time: 8 hours in the ER or an hour and half in the urgent care center
Cost: $1500 in the ER or $500 in the urgent care center
But we asked all the right questions over the phone, skipped the physical exam because the physical exam isn’t the gold standard, and sent the client directly to the radiologist for a $40 chest x-ray saving all kinds of inconveniences and money. And we confidently ruled out something scary. We treated his muscle pain and we’ve been in regular contact with him via email and we’re happy to report he’s now almost all better less than 24 hours later.
We simply rethink how healthcare is delivered and we make it speedier, more convenient, and less expensive.
This is Buddy. He’s got the official title “Warehouse Manager.”
We were on Maria Bartiromo’s “On the Money” show on NBC yesterday. Here’s a link.
Exciting times indeed to be in the Times here at Sherpaa.
A few of us from Sherpaa just got back from SxSW. We spent almost a week in Austin making new friends, enjoying ourselves, and spreading the word about Sherpaa.
We believe accessibility is the best prevention. So we decided to make sure that no matter where you went in downtown Austin, we wanted folks to have access to prevention.
After reading the ESPN article about the 100,000 condoms distributed to the Olympic athletes in London this summer, we figured SxSW is sort of like the Olympics for geeks, so we designed some Sherpaa-branded condoms. We distributed them to about 100 bars and restaurants in downtown Austin. We put them in plastic beer pitchers so the bars could reuse the containers. We had about 1000 condoms left over, so we donated them to Planned Parenthood in Austin so they’d go to a happy home.
We created five different versions so you could collect them all and trade them with friends!
How is Sherpaa different from a primary care doctor? That’s a question we’re always asked at Sherpaa.
Sherpaa is your guide and advocate throughout your entire healthcare experience. We are:
Our doctors are salaried. They are paid for good communication and doing what’s best for you. They understand that healthcare is extremely confusing and difficult to access and their primary goal is to guide you, treat you, and make healthcare crystal clear and efficient for you.
Traditional primary care doctors see patients in their office and see as many as they can to maximize their revenue. They are paid for office visits and procedures. The more they do, the more money they make. Their main focus is office visits in the exam room. If they are emailing you or talking with you on the phone, they are losing money. If they refer you to another doctor, once you are out of their office, you are on your own. Coordinating your care takes a huge amount of time and that time is not reimbursed. They are not paid to be your advocate in an increasingly chaotic healthcare industry. No professional works for free, especially when their time is valued at $200 an hour.
Let me compare and contrast the traditional vs. the Sherpaa experience. This is a true story that recently happened.
With a traditional primary care doctor:
You visit her in her office. During her exam, she notices you have a lump/nodule on your thyroid. She says you should go see an endocrinologist. She gives you a referral and a name. You leave the office and now you’re on your own. If you forget to ask a question, you can make another appointment. You call up the endocrinologist and are told the next appointment is in six weeks. You anxiously wait the six weeks. The endocrinologist says you should see a head and neck surgeon and they give you a random name. You leave their office and call up the surgeon. The surgeon’s receptionist tells you the next appointment is in 5 weeks. You take the appointment and, again, you anxiously wait. You arrive for the appointment and are told the surgeon recently stopped accepting your insurance. You’ve got a lump on your thyroid and you’re on your own. You call your primary care doctor and are told the next visit is in 3 weeks. And so on and so on…
You visit a primary care doctor who finds a nodule on your thyroid. You leave the office and shoot our doctors at Sherpaa a message via our app. We call up the PCP and ask about the findings. We’re told it’s a 4cm nodule. Your PCP recommended you see an endocrinologist. We call up our endocrinologist and get you in to see her tomorrow. After the endocrinologist sees you, he texts us his recommendation for you to see a head and neck surgeon because you’ll probably need a consult to get the nodule taken out. We call up our head and neck surgeon and get you in to see him in 2 days. We give the surgeon a call immediately after you’ve seen him to find out next steps. Within a week the nodule is found to be benign and removed.
It’s a wildly different experience. Sherpaa is just doing what doctors should be doing— being accessible by any means necessary, communicating well with you, treating you when appropriate, and guiding you and acting as your advocate throughout your healthcare experience making healthcare crystal clear for you.
photo from Eugene Smith’s, Country Doctor.