In an era of skyrocketing healthcare costs, how do you make care more affordable?
Making a doctor’s care affordable has been a dream of mine for the last 10 years. And I strongly believe that redesigning how healthcare is delivered and injecting some technology into that process will make healthcare more affordable over time.
Today, a visit to a primary care doctor costs a little over $200 (co-pay + the bill you get later) and an urgent care center is $350. Why is this so expensive? Overhead. Most doctor’s practices have 3 to 4 support staff per doctor. These are people like nurses, billers, receptionists, office managers, etc.. And then all the infrastructure you need to bill insurance companies is not cheap either. And then malpractice. And rent. And so on. A typical doctor’s practice is ~70% overhead.
When I founded Sherpaa 5 years ago, I looked at a traditional doctor’s practice and asked why in the hell does it have to be this way?
A 5 doctor Sherpaa practice has no brick and mortar and one medical assistant to support our doctors’ minute-by-minute needs. Our overhead is a tiny fraction of a traditional practice.
We have to pay our doctors’ salaries and their malpractice. And I believe streamlining our operations is maybe 20% optimized so far. The tech platform we’ve built to power our practice is laser-focused on analyzing time-intensive things our doctors do and automating them. We’ve already automated ~80% of asking questions of patients and ~80% of communicating a diagnosis and the treatment strategy going forward. When the primary means of communicating with our patients is text as opposed to real-time oral conversations, you can streamline things in a way a doctor in a traditional practice could never do. We’ve got a long way to go, but compared to a traditional practice, it’s just a fundamentally different beast.
In the spirit of making healthcare as affordable as possible, Sherpaa launched a new plan today, The Pay Per Episode Plan. It’s $10 a month and then it’s $50 for a simple issue (like a UTI) and $150 for a complicated issue (like a potential pneumonia with X-rays and routine check-ins over 3 weeks). Medication refills are free. And say you have an issue and you definitely need to be seen in person, you can reach out to us and get advice and a recommended referral to exactly the specialist or facility you need. Refills and recommended referrals are included in the monthly membership.
People in their 20's, 30's and 40's typically don’t have monthly medical needs. They may go 9 months between needs. But when they do, it’s typically an urgent issue and they need a super accessible go-to. The concept of unlimited care for a flat monthly fee is meaningless to this type of person. And seeing a $25 or $40 a month membership fee for unlimited care every month could be annoying, despite that fee being the equivalent of one urgent care visit, just paid for in monthly installments. I get that. So, now, instead of the cost of a nice monthly dinner hitting your card every month, Sherpaa is the cost of Netflix. And because refills and recommendations for referrals take us very little time, that’s included in the membership. All we can sell here at Sherpaa is our doctors’ time, and, in the spirit of our mission, our goal is to constantly streamline our doctors and make care as affordable as we possibly can.
I’d really appreciate your support and our doctors would really appreciate the opportunity to care for you. If you haven’t yet done so, please join Sherpaa and support healthcare innovation. Remember, it’s on us to innovate our way out of this healthcare mess.