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Imagine if your next false diagnosis of bone cancer or gout came from a real doctor instead of an automated database. This idea could be thrilling if you’re a sane person who happens to dislike going to the doctor–not so much if you’re an obsessive online symptom checker.
Either way, WebMD is getting closer to making it a reality. With their purchase of the health startup Avado, they’ll be beefing up their doctor-patient interactions–and possibly giving the Internet’s biggest hypochondriacs actual, not imagined, heart attacks.
Last August, Betabeat profiled Jay Parkinson, the Williamsburg doctor who first won over New York techies in the late aughts by reinventing annoying doctors visits. The hipster doc hacked together his own system–trading insurance premiums and wait times for a Google Calendar, Skype, and PayPal. He eventually formalized the system under a startup called Hello, Health until he parted ways with the company in 2009.
Now, Mr. Parkison is back at it with a similar venture called Sherpaa, a concierge health service he was just developing when we spoke. Sherpaa works with directly with employers to give company staffers 24/7 phone and email access to Sherpaa’s physicians, which the startup refers to as “guides.” (Get it??)