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Silicon Valley’s New Doctor Could Transform Health Care

Silicon Valley companies have a new doctor, and he may be the future of health care. Dr. Jay Parkinson is founder of a digital primary care practice called Sherpaa, in which patients use email and phone tech to have their ills diagnosed from any distance:

Have a mysterious rash? Send a photo of it to Sherpaa, reply to a few e-mails (Are you sure it’s not a bruise? Do you have bed bugs?), and proceed to the nearest Duane Reade to pick up your prescription.

Started just last year, Sherpaa already has 500 customers from 30 different companies. Many of these clients and firms are attracted by the promise of lower costs. The company claims its clients can save up to $4,000 per year per employee compared to traditional primary care practices. In spirit and clientele, Sherpaa is well suited for tech oligeeks and Silicon Valley types:

This may seem like health care for the “OMG, I’m sick 🙁 ” generation, but clients include high-tech players in New York like Tumblr, Skillshare, General Assembly and Hard Candy Shell. “We’re tech-savvy doctors,” [Parkinson] said, “for tech-savvy patients”….

He held parties, cocktail mixers and backyard barbecues that attracted Web luminaries like David Karp, founder of Tumblr; Chris Hughes, a founder of Facebook and current publisher of The New Republic; and Jakob Lodwick, a founder of Vimeo. “The Internet crowd really latched on to my practice,” Dr. Parkinson said.

Silicon Valley’s adoption of “digital” health care isn’t all that surprising, but it is important. Companies like Google and Facebook have pioneered tech that has transformed American life in a very short time. One can easily see how their partnering with medical firms like Dr. Parkinson’s could give us newer, cheaper, and better ways of delivering care faster than anyone expects.

[Image of Doctor’s Hands in Computer from Shutterstock]

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