Sherpaa has an internal team devoted exclusively to building and optimizing a group of specialists our full-time doctors here at Sherpaa refer to when you need to be seen in person. This only happens about 30% of the time, but when you need to be physically examined, our mission is to send you to the highest quality doctor where you’ll have the best experience. Essentially, out of the 880,000 doctors in America, we’re curating doctors so we can send you to the best doctors who will provide you with the best experience. These doctors are rare. We look for the upper echelon of exceptional— the probably less than 5% that meet our definition of a doctor we’d trust with our own lives. So how do we choose our specialists? And how do we define an exceptional doctor?
Our candidates must meet the standards of a proprietary 30-point weighted system before they’re considered. Next, we look at credentials. Are they board-certified in their specialty? How prestigious was their education? What have they published and do they have a professorship? Are they members and/or leaders of professional organizations? Most of all, we prize clinicians, as we believe that the more time spent with patients, the better.
Credentials are only the beginning. Sherpaa next performs an exhaustive search of a candidate’s online presence, of how a doctor presents herself and of how patients perceive her. We’re likely to refer to someone with great Yelp reviews, for instance, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle. We then investigate all available quality metrics. For example, we’ll consider outcome rates for procedure-based specialists or preventive care efforts for primary care doctors.
Part of our commitment to a great patient experience is ensuring that the medical treatment as well as financial obligations make sense. Our doctors take patients’ insurance nearly every time. We also ensure our doctors aren’t part of the sliver of doctors receiving a large amount of payouts from insurance companies. We want to avoid, at all costs, doctors who overbill insurance companies and patients.
If a prospective specialist passes this test, we move the conversation offline and into their practice. We choose physicians and practitioners with great personalities; who enjoy their profession and nurture their interests; whose offices are orderly and comforting; and who appreciate timeliness, kindness, and efficacy.
Our system for assigning potential specialists a weighted score includes the following:
Our team is constantly researching new doctors, looking for the 5% of doctors that meet our criteria, adding them to our referral network, engaging with them on a regular basis, and ensuring the reviews our patients leave within Sherpaa sustain our decision to include them.
We’re curating doctors to add meaning to the list of 880,000 doctors in America we all have access to on the internet or on our health insurance company’s website. Massive lists are meaningless. We’re doing all the work for you so you have access to a curated group of specialists who meet our definition of an exceptional doctor.
When Adrian, a client of ours, contacted Sherpaa with swelling and a sharp pain in his right foot, he wasn’t sure if it was something to worry about. He was moving around well enough, continuing with his exercise regimen, and already knew a podiatrist. But instead of scheduling, waiting, and paying for a doctor’s appointment, he contacted Sherpaa first.
Our doctors responded right away with a number of diagnostic questions, a few are listed below:
And what followed was simple:
One of our Sherpaa Doctors reminded us recently that pain is your body telling you to slow down. All Adrian had to do was listen, send us a message, and allow us to handle the rest.
We’re really glad Adrian had the x-ray taken, too. Stress fractures, if left untreated, can cause the bone to break apart completely.
Though our doctor-client interactions rarely stray from the phone or our messaging app, we strive for quick and comprehensive care. Just by spending a few minutes in contact with Sherpaa and an hour or so with a doctor and radiologist, Adrian identified a potentially harmful injury that at first seemed benign, then had it taken care of in no time.
CNBC’s Nightly Business Report featured us in their Bright Idea segment on last night’s show. Click above to watch!
Here’s a real life Sherpaa story that we think is truly amazing. In his own words below, Joey describes how we were able to prevent his soccer injury from turning his night into a catastrophe:
I was playing soccer late one evening and I got kicked really hard in the face. There was a lot of blood and I had a deep cut over my left eye. It was a pretty bad situation. My two biggest concerns were: do I need stitches for this, and if so, do I need to go to the hospital right away to get that done? It was already 10:30pm as all of this was running through my head, and the idea of a 4-hour visit to the emergency room sounded like a complete nightmare.
Since I wasn’t sure what to do, I used my Sherpaa account to get in touch with a doctor. Dr. Santana replied within a few minutes and I told her what happened. She asked me to take a picture of my eye. I sent her the first photo above and she let me know I definitely needed to get stitches. She also mentioned that with lacerations to the face, it’s preferable to get the stitches done by a plastic surgeon to make sure the scarring is very minimal. She immediately gave me a referral to a plastic surgeon, Dr. Adam Kolker.
To my surprise, I was able to get in touch with Dr. Kolker - it was already 11pm at night at that point. He was very thoughtful and reassuring over the phone, and explained that it would be perfectly OK for me to wait until the morning to get stitched up. He gave me instructions on how to take care of the wound in the meantime and set up an appointment for me to see him at 8am the next morning.
This was amazing to me: not only did I have the comfort of knowing that I would receive amazing care in the morning, but I also avoided the emergency room completely. Instead, I went home and was in bed before midnight.
Dr. Kolker was fantastic the next morning - I was in and out of his office in less than 30 minutes. I didn’t have to miss any time at work or lose a bunch of sleep waiting in the ER to be seen.
Sherpaa, Dr. Santana and Dr. Kolker were fantastic for me for two major reasons. First, I ended up getting really great care: I didn’t have to research who to go to, while bleeding from a laceration on my face. That was all taken care of by Sherpaa. Second, I was able to get professional, expert medical advice late at night that saved me a whole lot of time and annoyance and a visit to the emergency room. It’s tough to really understand how important both of those things are until you’re in the moment and it’s happening.
Dr. Santana also checked in on me via my Sherpaa account the next day, and I happily sent her the second photo above. It was really nice to have that kind of follow-up. The whole experience could not have been more seamless for me.
Although there is a ton of activity in healthcare right now in terms of new apps, new health data companies, new ways to purchase health insurance, etc…there are very few companies tackling the most profound part of healthcare that’s broken and ripe for disruption— the delivery of healthcare. What does it mean to “go to the doctor?” When do you need to actually see a doctor in person vs. just talk with a doctor?”
Here at Sherpaa, we’re preventing 70% of office visits from happening at all. That is a fundamentally massive change. It’s true healthcare disruption, not incremental change. It’s not an efficiency increase of 5%. It’s an acknowledgement that 70% of doctor office visits simply don’t need to happen.
So, on June 12th, I’m delighted to be on a panel with two of my fellow healthcare delivery innovators:
Although Tom, Jason, and I are reimagining the future of healthcare delivery, there are fundamental differences in the strategy and philosophy of our companies.
Needless to say, it’s going to be a spirited discussion tackling the real issues of healthcare. I’m excited.
It’s free, located at Softbank’s space in Flatiron on June 12th and 6:30pm, and there will be food and booze.
Space is limited. RSVP to Saundra (Saundra_parola@softbank.com) to secure your spot.
Healthcare absolutely can be better and we’re proof. I’ve seen a lot of healthcare companies come and go and raise too much or too little money. My goal is to create a sustainable service that people absolutely need and love powered by an intelligent business and investment strategy based on a career of studying what works and what doesn’t in healthcare. In the beginning of my career, back in 2007, I often blogged about what’s wrong with healthcare. Around 2011, I decided to stop bitching, and start building something better. Sherpaa is a dream come true, enabled by a good idea and passionate investors who want to change a very important, yet broken, industry and fundamentally make it better. Without our investors’ passion and talents, Sherpaa would be nowhere. Along with the investors in our seed round (O’Reilly Alpha Tech Ventures, First Round Capital, and Collaborative Fund) who followed on in this Series A, Josh Guttman at Softbank led this investment along with David Karp, the CEO and founder of tumblr. I’m thrilled to have such a rock star group of investors enabling Sherpaa to grow bigger and better.
The WSJ article alludes to something I strongly believe. If you haven’t noticed, our investors are not healthcare investors. Their main focus is consumer technology. I’m a huge believer that change in healthcare cannot come from within the confines of traditional healthcare thinking. It must come from fresh-eyed partners and investors outside of the healthcare box who find healthcare way too frustrating and backwards.
So cheers to the finest team of doctors, sales people, engineers, account experience directors, and insurance experts that power Sherpaa and make a better version of healthcare as awesome as it can be. Cheers to the companies who entrust us to make healthcare better for their company. And cheers to Phase Two of Sherpaa, making it bigger, better, and quickly coming to a city near you.
Exciting news: Sherpaa is expanding. We’re currently working with over 100 companies here in NYC and many of them have offices in other major cities in America. We’re building the nation’s first nationwide group of forward-thinking, exceptionally trained health professionals. Sure, there are massive lists of doctors out there you can find on your insurer’s website. But, nobody is curating that confusing, generic list of doctors to find exquisitely trained, mission-driven health professionals who believe healthcare can and should be a wonderful experience for patients. These doctors are rare, but they’re the secret to creating markedly better healthcare.
As Sherpaa expands to other cities, we understand that healthcare is hyperlocal— when you need to be seen by a doctor, you want one located in an office not too far away from you. Fortunately, with Sherpaa, we solve 70% of medical issues in house and online never needing to refer you to a doctor to be seen in person. But, for the other 30%, that means we rely on this tribe of forward-thinking health professionals in other major cities. If you are a health professional and you want to join the Sherpaa team of specialists we refer to, you can make that happen right here.
At Sherpaa, we always tell our clients that our Doctors and Insurance Guides should be their first point of contact for all things health… and by “all” we mean any health question or concern they may have, even if they aren’t necessarily sick at the moment.
Today we released a fun new feature in our app that calls attention to the many ways to use Sherpaa. If you’ve ever had a question about your health or insurance but you were too embarrassed to ask, now’s your chance. Log in and ask Sherpaa. It’s like having a doctor in the family.
I just set up Ducksboard for Sherpaa. It’s essentially a dashboard for your company and allows you to see the real-time status of all things happening in your company. Here are a few of the things that I can now see:
All of this is extremely insightful. Data-driven healthcare is a dream of mine. However, there’s a number we’re tracking that I think is fascinating. It’s an estimate of how much money our doctors are saving all of the employees of companies we cover. It’s a number that currently has little to do with our bottom line, but it has everything to do with our mission— we want to deliver care more effectively and less expensively. We want to be a service that people absolutely love and need, one that people rave about, but also one that saves our folks money. That’s hard to do.
Prior to setting up this dashboard, I had no idea that every month our doctors are saving our patients almost exactly Sherpaa’s monthly revenue. Without going into details, Sherpaa is kicking ass in terms of revenue. But to think that we’re saving this much money is proving out my theory that served as the reason to start Sherpaa— we absolutely can create a better healthcare experience that people love that makes healthcare less expensive.