How do Sherpaa doctors practice medicine?

Sherpaa’s full-time doctors who work exclusively for us have a very efficient, and innovative, way of solving medical problems. 98% of the time, our doctors communicate with employees via our web or smartphone app. The other 2% is over the phone, for urgent issues. Here’s how Sherpaa works:

  • When an employee creates a Sherpaa profile, they complete a health history. This is essentially like filling out the paper clipboard in a doctor’s office, but they only have to do this once.

  • Via our app, an employee creates a case choosing from “I’m sick,“ “I’m hurt,” “I need a refill,” “I need a referral,” "I have a mental health concern,” or “I have a chronic health concern.” They typically write a paragraph or two explaining in their own time and on their own terms their unique situation. They send it off.

  • A Sherpaa doctor reads the employee’s story and then sends back a list of targeted questions. Typically, this is a series of about 20 questions designed to rule out serious things and draw us toward a diagnosis. An employee answers the questions and sends them back to our doctor.

  • 50% of the time, simply asking the right questions leads us toward the diagnosis. We will treat accordingly with a medication and/or things to do at home to get better.

  • 20% of the time, our doctors send the employee to a lab or radiology center to confirm the suspected diagnosis by blood tests or X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, or MRIs.

  • Once the results are available, we get the results and treat accordingly. Depending on the test, this is a matter of minutes to hours. The results are accessible to the employee within their Sherpaa profile.

  • 30% of the time, our doctors deem it absolutely necessary to be seen in person. We will recommend a specialist and make the appointment for the employee bypassing the extremely long wait times. After the patient has been seen in person, the specialist will send us a consult, which will then be accessible to the employee within their Sherpaa profile.

  • We follow up with the patient a few days to weeks later to make sure all is well and/or address any further questions the employee may have at any time.

We think this communication is better than an in-person doctor visit. It changes the entire concept of a doctor visit from a transaction within the confines of a doctor’s office to a convenient conversation that evolves over time. And, like every other aspect of life, good things happen with good, efficient communication. Employees can tell their story without interruptions in their own words and on their own time without being in an uncomfortable, intimidating doctor office surrounded by sick people. Doctors can take a very complete, structured, history asking all of the right questions to rule out serious things and give us a clear idea of what’s actually happening. It’s taking an evidence-based history and covering all bases. It doesn’t have the time constraints of the typical 8 to 10 minute office visit. And, let’s face it, with the enormous amount of medical information out there, it’s impossible for a doctor to know everything. In an office visit, doctors have to “wing it” when they see something they don’t fully recall or understand. But with Sherpaa, doctors can do the research and respond to the employee after getting a better scientific grasp on the issue.

Is it safe?

We think the best way to answer this question is based on our malpractice insurer’s actuaries. Our malpractice rates are a third of a traditional office-based doctor. This is due to three reasons. First, we don’t do any procedures (the vast majority of malpractice stems from procedures gone wrong and 6% of doctors account for 60% of malpractice…we absolutely do not hire any doctor with any history of malpractice). Second, we’re very accessible. In fact, we have an open line of communication with employees 24/7. Being accessible to respond to any new problems that arise is extremely safe. Third, every case comes with a list of reasons to reach back out to us or go to the ER. The entire conversation is documented.

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