A company seeking to reduce the cost of employer insurance has raised $1.85 million to install a development team and supplement a sales team as it gears up for a nationwide expansion.
Sherpaa Health, launched by primary care physician Jay Parkinson provides subscribers with access to physicians 24 hours, seven days a week. Taking its name from the Nepalese ethnic group that help adventure seekers navigate the Himalayas, the company’s “guides” help members negotiate New York’s healthcare community with services that include connecting users with New York City specialists they personally know and trust, refilling short-term prescriptions, diagnosing and treating certain medical conditions, answering health insurance questions, helping find the best prices on members’ medications and informing users about helpful new tools and apps to optimize their health.
In an e-mailed statement Parkinson said:
“We are building our own dedicated technology you can describe as half [customer relations management] CRM and half customer support, but for healthcare issues. This should be launched in the next three to four months…”
“Our goal is to refine our service here in NYC until we’re fairly confident that we’ve built the right processes that can then be replicated in other major metropolitan areas in the US. We’d like to be in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Chicago in the next year and a half.”
One aspect of Sherpaa’s service is facilitating online access to physicians, a popular trend among health IT companies. HealthTap provides a network of 14,000 physicians that users can e-mail with their medical questions. Dermlink seeks to reduce time spent waiting for dermatology appointments with its diagnosis network. Last week Best Doctors, a company offering a physicians network to provide second opinions, raised $45 million.
Services like Sherpaa and others are motivated by how employers are coping with increased healthcare costs. A PriceWaterhouseCoopers survey of 1,440 employers cited by Forbes said half expected to cope with increasing healthcare costs by increasing employees’ share of the burden, a trend that’s pushing the demand for greater cost transparency. Castlight Health offers a service that helps employees of self insured companies comparison shop for medical procedures and tests.