My grandfather turned 94 two weeks ago. He’s been a wealth of influence in my life, but there’s one thing he’s regularly told me:

“If you sit down, you’ll never stand up.”

He’s always been moving. He’s been the most active man I’ve ever known and his long life has been his reward. A new groundbreaking study just published in JAMA suggests that:

Regular exercise, including walking, significantly reduces the chance that a frail older person will become physically disabled, according to one of the largest and longest-running studies of its kind to date.

While everyone knows that exercise is a good idea, whatever your age, the hard, scientific evidence about its benefits in the old and infirm has been surprisingly limited.

“For the first time, we have directly shown that exercise can effectively lessen or prevent the development of physical disability in a population of extremely vulnerable elderly people,” said Dr. Marco Pahor, the director of the Institute on Aging at the University of Florida in Gainesville and the lead author of the study.

Countless epidemiological studies have found a strong correlation between physical activity in advanced age and a longer, healthier life. But such studies can’t prove that exercise improves older people’s health, only that healthy older people exercise.

My grandfather has always been ahead of the curve. It’s nice to see science proving his theories. It’s also interesting to note that the studies around such a logical concept are “surprisingly limited.” Actually, it’s not that surprising. In the medical world, if you can’t profit off the findings of a study, there probably isn’t good, well-funded, objective science around it. The question is interesting…who stands to profit off exercise and would they still publish the results if the findings found there was no effect?



Sherpaa is hiring developers!

We’re looking for a dedicated back end developer to help us improve healthcare with technology. Won’t you join us?

Who we need:

We are looking for a back end developer eager to join our small but ambitious development team and grow with us. With just two developers, we’ve built a product that is currently giving thousands of people better healthcare, but as we expand and set up shop outside of NYC, we have a lot more to build.

The core of our technology is a secure, rich, asynchronous messaging system connecting doctors and insurance specialists to our clients to solve their health and insurance problems. Our next challenge is to transition our existing system to a robust and scalable architecture capable of serving orders of magnitude more users, while building powerful new features that enable our doctors and insurance specialists to work more efficiently.

Elegance and ease of use is our priority, and we pride ourselves on bringing that to our clients.

Our next addition to the development team will need a good handle on:

  • Python

  • OO design

  • Security

  • Unix administration/server ops

  • Functional programming concepts

  • Databases (SQL and alternative)

  • Distributed systems

  • Web Architecture

Most importantly, we need a capable, skilled, and thoughtful engineer, who wants to solve large-scale problems, is confident and decisive enough to help us reach our goals, and can add your own experience and vision to our team.

Please send your resume along with a thoughtful cover letter to

Sherpaa raises a $4M Series A round led by Softbank

I’m obviously quite excited about this. Sherpaa started in February of 2012 with one client, tumblr. A little over two years later:

  • We take care of more than 100 companies
  • We’re 18 employees and hiring
  • Our monthly revenue covers our monthly burn
  • We’re now in California and in the process of expanding to 10 other major cities by the end of the year
  • We solve 70% of medical problems without referring you to see a doctor in person…think about that…that means 70% of doctor visits don’t need to happen
  • Our insurance experts recoup money on a daily basis for you from insurance companies and doctors’ billing mistakes
  • Employees absolutely love the service with 98% rating the experience as exceptional
  • Companies are offering this exceptionally-rated service and saving money 

Healthcare absolutely can be better and we’re proof. I’ve seen a lot of healthcare companies come and go and raise too much or too little money. My goal is to create a sustainable service that people absolutely need and love powered by an intelligent business and investment strategy based on a career of studying what works and what doesn’t in healthcare. In the beginning of my career, back in 2007, I often blogged about what’s wrong with healthcare. Around 2011, I decided to stop bitching, and start building something better. Sherpaa is a dream come true, enabled by a good idea and passionate investors who want to change a very important, yet broken, industry and fundamentally make it better. Without our investors’ passion and talents, Sherpaa would be nowhere. Along with the investors in our seed round (O’Reilly Alpha Tech Ventures, First Round Capital, and Collaborative Fund) who followed on in this Series A, Josh Guttman at Softbank led this investment along with David Karp, the CEO and founder of tumblr. I’m thrilled to have such a rock star group of investors enabling Sherpaa to grow bigger and better.

The WSJ article alludes to something I strongly believe. If you haven’t noticed, our investors are not healthcare investors. Their main focus is consumer technology. I’m a huge believer that change in healthcare cannot come from within the confines of traditional healthcare thinking. It must come from fresh-eyed partners and investors outside of the healthcare box who find healthcare way too frustrating and backwards. 

So cheers to the finest team of doctors, sales people, engineers, account experience directors, and insurance experts that power Sherpaa and make a better version of healthcare as awesome as it can be. Cheers to the companies who entrust us to make healthcare better for their company. And cheers to Phase Two of Sherpaa, making it bigger, better, and quickly coming to a city near you.

Exciting news: Sherpaa is expanding. We’re currently working with over 100 companies here in NYC and many of them have offices in other major cities in America. We’re building the nation’s first nationwide group of forward-thinking, exceptionally trained health professionals. Sure, there are massive lists of doctors out there you can find on your insurer’s website. But, nobody is curating that confusing, generic list of doctors to find exquisitely trained, mission-driven health professionals who believe healthcare can and should be a wonderful experience for patients. These doctors are rare, but they’re the secret to creating markedly better healthcare.

As Sherpaa expands to other cities, we understand that healthcare is hyperlocal— when you need to be seen by a doctor, you want one located in an office not too far away from you. Fortunately, with Sherpaa, we solve 70% of medical issues in house and online never needing to refer you to a doctor to be seen in person. But, for the other 30%, that means we rely on this tribe of forward-thinking health professionals in other major cities. If you are a health professional and you want to join the Sherpaa team of specialists we refer to, you can make that happen right here.


At Sherpaa, we always tell our clients that our Doctors and Insurance Guides should be their first point of contact for all things health… and by “all” we mean any health question or concern they may have, even if they aren’t necessarily sick at the moment.

Today we released a fun new feature in our app that calls attention to the many ways to use Sherpaa. If you’ve ever had a question about your health or insurance but you were too embarrassed to ask, now’s your chance. Log in and ask Sherpaa. It’s like having a doctor in the family.

I recently spent the weekend upstate at a beautiful old house built in 1898. It was surrounded by trees and just a hundred yards away from a gorgeous, crystal clear lake. It had a lovely massive porch in front that looked absolutely perfect for sipping lemonade, reading, and, brace yourself, giving birth. The owner of the house showed me photos taken almost four years ago of her sister giving birth to a lovely little girl out on the porch, surrounded by family and friends. I’m sure it looked very similar to that very first birth in the house over a hundred years ago.

When I was doing my pediatric residency in the West Village, the birthing center just a few blocks away was the bane of my existence. So were all the trendy West Village home births. Our hospital was where all the home births and birthing center births gone bad came to to get resuscitated. I remember the baby that was accidentally dropped in the birthing pool and took its first breaths of bloody bath water. The water was too soiled to find the baby quickly and it supposedly was under for 10 or 15 seconds as they searched for the little girl. I saw too many bad outcomes and became convinced that the hospital was the only safe place to give birth.

But then The Lancet, one of the most respected medical journals of all time, published a study this week that found:

“The United States is one of just eight countries in the world where deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth rose between 2003 and 2013, a new report says. That puts it in the company of countries such as Afghanistan, Belize and El Salvador.”

This falls right in line with the other wide scale studies reporting the abysmal performance of our nation’s healthcare system. The most popular one being the World Health Organization ranking the US healthcare system 37th in performance.

But why would our maternal mortality increase be on par with Afghanistan’s increase? Could it be that women have just as difficult a time accessing high quality care in America as women in Afghanistan? That’s one possibility. But I think the far more likely reason is that American women have too much access to an increasingly unsafe healthcare industry marred by an addiction to unnatural and brutal c-section births (ever seen one?) in environments teeming with a high risk of hospital-acquired infections.

It’s been 14 years since the Institute of Medicine released their startling report finding that roughly 100,000 people die every year because of contact with the United States Healthcare Industry. Since that report was released, those numbers haven’t changed. Our nation’s healthcare industry is responsible for 100,000 deaths and our nation’s highways are responsible for roughly 34,000.

I have 3 years of personal anecdotes from real life situations of home births gone bad. But, as a doctor on the front lines working in a pediatric ER or neonatal intensive care unit, you see a disproportionate amount of bad things. It’s the nature of our business. Sick people come to us and it colors our world because we tend to forget about all the health and all the good out there in the world. For every botched home birth, there are many more that go marvelously well safe from the world of hospital-acquired infections and unpleasant high tech machines designed to pick up the first sign of an excuse to c-section.

So now I’m in a bind. I’ve got my experience that says natural pregnancies and births are unsafe for mom and baby. But now we’ve got legitimate, believable hard data saying that our healthcare system is increasingly unsafe for mothers. I don’t practice medicine anymore, but I’m still asked for advice. As a good doctor, I should point others to reliable, evidence-based information. Going forward, I’m afraid I’m going to have to point expectant mothers toward this study. It’s an important one and hopefully sparks a conversation where expectant mothers and fathers demand safer, cleaner, and less risky environments to bring babies into this lovely world.

I just set up Ducksboard for Sherpaa. It’s essentially a dashboard for your company and allows you to see the real-time status of all things happening in your company. Here are a few of the things that I can now see:

  • How many people reached out to Sherpaa in the last 24 hours
  • The types of cases people are creating (sick, hurt, insurance questions, mental health, etc.)
  • How our sales team is doing and what their pipeline looks like
  • How many phone calls our physicians got this month
  • Percentage of cases our docs are solving without referring you to be seen in person
  • Ratings for Sherpaa and for the specialists we refer to
  • Growth in patients and companies
  • Real-time revenue
  • Our social footprint (twitter mentions, LinkedIn followers, etc.)

All of this is extremely insightful. Data-driven healthcare is a dream of mine. However, there’s a number we’re tracking that I think is fascinating. It’s an estimate of how much money our doctors are saving all of the employees of companies we cover. It’s a number that currently has little to do with our bottom line, but it has everything to do with our mission— we want to deliver care more effectively and less expensively. We want to be a service that people absolutely love and need, one that people rave about, but also one that saves our folks money. That’s hard to do. 

Prior to setting up this dashboard, I had no idea that every month our doctors are saving our patients almost exactly Sherpaa’s monthly revenue. Without going into details, Sherpaa is kicking ass in terms of revenue. But to think that we’re saving this much money is proving out my theory that served as the reason to start Sherpaa— we absolutely can create a better healthcare experience that people love that makes healthcare less expensive.