Sherpaa is looking for a senior UX/UI designer

Design has been at the core of Sherpaa since day one. And because of that, we’ve created an entirely new genre of healthcare delivery and fundamentally changed how doctors and patients communicate.

When I started Sherpaa, I sat down and process-mapped my vision for the ideal healthcare experience from both and the patient and doctor perspective. That’s where we started. Then we built the technology to enable that ideal process while building a brand that we thought would prove we’re a new kind of healthcare. We don’t look, feel, or talk like anything else in healthcare. But we function better and are delivering healthcare in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Sherpaa is a little over three years now and Florian Fangohr has been our main designer since day one. Florian is simply the most talented designer I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. He’s principled, devoted to simplicity, passionate, and always fighting for the most elegant experience without cutting corners. We push each other forward, and through discussion and collaboration, we’ve managed to produce a game-changing healthcare experience. We’re looking to continue that spirit of design.

We want an academic, obsessed, passionate, experienced designer who wants to work on something big and important. Doctors, patients, company admins, internal Sherpaa admins, health insurance guides, medical assistants…these are our users. They all have their own set of tools within the platform to deliver care and make healthcare as simple and transparent as possible. We have a team of about 30 people and we’re growing. 

Healthcare is heavy and complicated and some design decisions can literally be the difference between safe and deadly. It’s one of the most important problems designers can work on. If you’re up for it, please contact me at and include your portfolio.

Back in 1998, when I was a fourth year medical student at Penn State, I did a “rural medicine” rotation in Williamsburg, PA. The only thing keeping this town alive was an envelope factory. There were roughly 1,300 people living in the town composed of 98.4% white people making roughly $30,000 per year per household.

My rotation was with the Williamsburg Family Practice run out of a large house in the main part of town. Just a few months prior to my arrival, the practice had been taken over by a thirty-something year old family practice doctor. I found out on my first day that the 80-something year old doctor who had made it his life’s work to be the Williamsburg town doctor passed away just a few months prior where he lived in the second floor of the house. And guess where I was supposed to stay for this month-long rotation? In the second floor of the house. There was an empty third floor, but I was told it was off-limits. Just outside the bedroom window was an old Civil War graveyard. I lasted a night and a half in that place by myself. But that’s another story.

The young doctor who took over the practice was taken aback by two things. First, the doctor had been practicing out of that house for a little over 50 years and had delivered babies that were then 50 years old or so. Each person’s entire life’s medical records were on a few 3×5 index cards. It was that simple. And, second, and most surprising, was that most of the adults, especially the little old ladies of the town, were being prescribed an anti-anxiety medication that went out of vogue in the 1970s. It was a “nerve pill.” Essentially this old doctor had the entire town all chilled out and dependent on him. Not a great policy at all, but I’m sure something that happens all over the country in rural areas. Literally entire counties, if they have doctors, are at the mercy of how that one doctor practices. It’s easy to forget that living in NYC. But roughly 20% of people in America live in rural areas where doctors are scarce. Thirty-five counties in Texas have no physicians at all. There really are two Americas.

“But very soon, perhaps within a year, the poppy will no longer be the only way to produce heroin’s raw ingredient. It will be possible for drug companies, or drug traffickers, to brew it in yeast genetically modified to turn sugar into morphine.”

This is a game changer. Here’s how this works. The pharmaceutical industry produces painkillers. Doctors prescribe painkillers. They have to be designed so that they are easy to take for legitimate users and, at the same time, designed so they discourage abuse by addicts. 80% of heroin addicts started with prescription painkillers prescribed by doctors. Those prescription medications become harder and harder and more expensive to get, so addicts turn to heroin because it’s cheaper and easier to procure. And it looks like the cost of heroin is going to get even cheaper because now heroin won’t depend on fields of poppies in Afghanistan. All an illicit drug producer needs to procure is this fancy yeast designed for Big Pharma. 

Here’s a chart of the number of painkiller prescriptions written by doctors in the last 20 years:


And here’s the subsequent rise in heroin addiction and overdoses. 


Nationally, overdoses are getting younger and whiter. The most recent federal data show 19,154 opioid drug deaths in 2010, with 3,094 involving heroin and the rest painkillers. Eighty-eight percent of those who died from heroin were white, half were younger than 34, and almost a fifth were ages 15 to 24. Heroin deaths of teenagers and young adults tripled in the first decade of this century.

But don’t forget…cocaine is just as deadly as heroin. It just kills you in a much more dramatic way from sudden cardiac death. Instead of going to sleep and stopping breathing you snort some coke and instantly die from your heart stopping. 

Buddy and I went to my friend Jon’s wedding in Kent, CT this weekend. It was one of the finest weekends in many years. And it was Buddy’s first wedding. He even got a bath and smelled all fancy.

“I now have a clear view of our assigned runway ahead. I disconnect the autopilot and silence the whoop-whoop of the siren that warns me I’ve done so. We lower the landing gear and complete the extension of the flaps that expand and alter the wing. We read the landing checklist. The air is bumpier now.”

This is one of those articles that I’ll remember for quite some time. If you’ve ever wondered how pilots fly all over the world, start here. How do planes know their altitude? How are the skies organized? How are you still mesmerized by the Northern Lights after seeing them almost every day?

Nearly 45,000 flights a day in the US take off and land. And we’ll sometimes go years as a country without a major catastrophic crash. But why is it that more than 100,000 people a year die in America due to contact with the American Healthcare Industry?

Because doctors and pilots possess very different attitudes and behaviors. And if doctors could be more like pilots, far less people would die, life expectancy would increase, and our country’s health could be markedly improved.

Doctors are educated and trained in a dog-eat-dog hyper-competitive environment that rewards egos and stifles teamwork.

Graduating number one in your medical school class is something most medical students fight it out for. For those in the top of their class, it’s a positive feedback loop that feeds their egos and sets the stage for your name and career as a physician. For example, the brand of Johns Hopkins and Harvard is almost as powerful as you being called the best brain surgeon in the country. You don’t become the best without being the top of your class, then the Chief Resident, and then by having a reputation for being perfect. But no doctor can be perfect in a silo. They have a whole team of a rotating cast of nurses, aides, partners, etc. However, the team doesn’t get credit. And Harvard or Hopkins kind of gets credit. But the doctor’s name gets all the credit. It’s simply an ego thing that starts on the first day of medical school.

But what happens when doctors screw up? It’s on them. They are the target of the malpractice case. Their name gets tarnished and it’s on the permanent record forever. But…the vast majority of the time, they still get to practice. The patient suffers, or maybe even dies, but the physician moves on. It’s part of the game. Death and bad things happen to us all the time, you gotta shake it off. You have to desensitize yourself just to survive the psychological strain of dealing with so much death and disease. Essentially, we get mulligans all the time.

If we went down with the ship every time we made a mistake, and not only we died, but we took out 300 of our patients along with us, we’d probably start thinking and acting a lot more like pilots.

Commercial pilots understand that they are a cog in the wheel, supported by a team, and if they make a big mistake, they lose their life too. Because of this, they almost worship process, teamwork, and respect for the machine. A checklist and your team saves your life every time you fly. And when bad things happen, it’s in the news and the news is about the airline’s crash, not the pilot’s name. If 100,000 people a year die from medical mistakes, this would be the equivalent of an airliner a day crashing in America consuming a huge part of the news cycle.

Being a great doctor is not about you. It’s about your team. But the system that creates us rewards the wrong things. We should be rewarded for teamwork. We should be rewarded for worshipping a tried-and-true process. We should understand that we’re just a cog in the wheel of our nation’s health. We need to think of our operating rooms or our exam rooms more like planes that we need to respect because our patients’ lives depend on the machine. We should think of our careers as a social good designed to create the safest framework for our patients. And if we could do this, we’d save far more lives than anything doctors have ever invented.