Last August, Betabeat profiled Jay Parkinson, the Williamsburg doctor who first won over New York techies in the late aughts by reinventing annoying doctors visits. The hipster doc hacked together his own system–trading insurance premiums and wait times for a Google Calendar, Skype, and PayPal. He eventually formalized the system under a startup called Hello, Health until he parted ways with the company in 2009.
Now, Mr. Parkison is back at it with a similar venture called Sherpaa, a concierge health service he was just developing when we spoke. Sherpaa works with directly with employers to give company staffers 24/7 phone and email access to Sherpaa’s physicians, which the startup refers to as “guides.” (Get it??)
Imagine consulting an expert instead of WebMD when you have that weird nagging pain in your jaw, but no time to leave the office. Or opting to email a picture of an injury instead of visiting the emergency room. Sounds well-suited for a heads-down office culture.
The company officially launched earlier this year with Tumblr as its sole client. (Perhaps they were attracted to Sherpaa’s excess of vowels.) In recent weeks, Fast Company reports that the healthcare startup has been signing up other clients. But the most telling detail is a stastic Mr. Parkinson shared with GigaOm: so far, 80 percent of Tumblr’s employees have used the service.
Sherpaa cuts out wasteful spending by going to companies, analyzing their health care, and securing them a plan that is more in line with how their employees use medical services. They generally recommend a deductible of at least $2,000, and then ask companies to give employees a $2,000 debit card for health care. Whatever they don’t use goes back into the company coffers. In the end, these companies can save $2,000 to $4,000 per employee, even with the debit card.
Sherpaa doctors only work remotely, but can assess whether patients need a prescription or specialist referral. The startup currently has one doctor on call, but 100 specialists and plans to expand to 150 to 200 New York City doctors in the future.
We’ve reached out Mr. Parkinson for more details and will update you when we hear back.