Yesterday, I spoke at the School of Visual Arts MFA Interaction Design Program here in NYC. Liz Danzico, creative director of NPR, is the chair and founder of the program. Every month, they have special guests speak with the students about how design impacts their company or product.
A little over 11 years ago, I launched my first practice that was a bit like Marcus Welby meets the internet. With 7 million hits on my site in the first month, it was the first and only doctor’s practice to go viral. And since this was just 3 months after the first iPhone launched, it was the first tech-enabled, mobile-first practice. And many would consider this as one of the first DPC practices.
Looking back, the whole thing was very naive. But at the same time, I did something new and different, and this caught the industry’s attention:
That practice and this new world of technology unlocked my entire career. Since then, I built Hello Health, The Future Well, and now, for the last 7 years we’ve been building Sherpaa. I’ve spent roughly $50M of investment money to figure out what the internet means to both doctors and patients. But it’s now 11 years later. I’ve grown older, the entire world has changed around us, yet going to the doctor still looks and feels the same as when I was a kid. After yapping for quite some time to the class about designing healthcare and the challenges we’ve gone through to make healthcare better, Liz asked me a question:
Why haven’t you quit?
This made me recall a podcast I listened to about a year ago where a gentleman who’s trying to design a safer gun was being interviewed:
Important, big shifts in culture just take a really, really long time, especially when politics and large portions of the economy are involved.
So you keep your head down, persevere, write about things so others can learn from your experiences, have a vision that’s both persistent but always evolving, and wait for the right timing.
And, as a doctor who’s been through med school and residency, you get used to hard things and putting in the time. But also like any doctor, you see thousands and thousands of people getting care in an entirely new way and it’s one of the most inspiring and gratifying things anyone could ever experience. It’s truly wild to watch. Yesterday, I spent the day with our Chief Physician, Dr. Susan Gonnella. I was driving home from a meeting and she was in the passenger seat on her phone managing patients via Sherpaa’s platform. At the end of the hour long trip back into NYC, after I commented at the beginning of the trip on how amazing what she was doing actually is, she exclaimed “I worked with 7 patients in the last hour!” All on the trip back home. It’s truly a whole new world, yet, we’ve been doing this for 7 years.
And because you have a vision and because you write about it, those words scale to people searching for something different/better, so a community develops. And out of that community, your core team. There’s really no word to describe the feeling of the magic that comes out of the right team all working toward the same vision, so I won’t. Just, mind-blown.
So that’s why I don’t quit. I can’t quit. Everything is just too amazing.