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Sherpa Medical

Medical billing that doesn't make you sick.

Why Sherpa Medical?

The problem:

Medical billing is confusing at best and inaccurate at worst, leaving patients stressed over lack of transparency and high costs.

The solution:

Like the expert mountain guides native to Nepal, medical sherpas help patients navigate the mountain of medical billing. Utilizing a hybrid approach, Sherpa medical utilizes interpersonal and technical communication to help the patient with their medical billing process from pre-surgery to post-surgery.

Main learnings:

The importance of interpersonal connection with technology in healthcare is still important

Navigating through healthcare insurance adds unneeded stress in all people.

Storyboarding helps bring the idea to life visually in a low-fidelity form

Video prototypes are very impactful for stakeholder to understand the user journey of the service or product

Our design research process:
Our design research process:
Design Reserch

1. Create a Research Plan

First, we created a research plan. This plan included:

  1. Our team

  2. Project background

  3. Success Criteria

  4. Research goals objectives

  5. Research themes and questions

  6. Research approach

  7. Respondents & Recruitment

  8. Risk management

  9. Project Timeline

This plan was reviewed by Design Institute in Health members before starting design research.

Tools we used during interviews:

  • Traditional note-taking

  • Artifact analysis

  • Ecosystem model of their network

  • Noting down gestures & emotes

Research Themes & Questions

Created by whole team

Research themes & questions
Research Plan

2. Conduct Secondary Research

First, we started off with secondary research. 

Our main objective in this phase was to get a better understanding of the medical billing process, how it connects with insurance, and common pain-points patients face with the overall process. We found statistics that helped us understand the impact of medical bills in a measurable way, and we discovered the ways in which the system makes it harder for patients to keep insurance companies and hospitals accountable for the erroneous charges.

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Seconary Research

3. Conduct Primary Research

We decided to conduct 3 participants interview via Zoom. Due to a short recruitment period, we recruited through family and friend network with those who have hasd recent experience with their medical bills.

Below are personas of each individual:

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Primary Research

4. Sensemaking

With all our findings, we synthesized our data by grouping common themes and interests.

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5. Main themes & insights

With all our findings our main insights were:

Insurers want to pay as little as possible, even when that means sticking patients with the bill.

Hospitals have little to no incentive to make billing easier to understand or even bill correctly. 

Patients are frustrated with the complexity and obscurity of the system, they don’t know where to find answers. 

Patients need an advocate that will work for their best interest, not self-insured employers, insurance companies, or hospitals.

So we thought...

How might we empower patients and help them navigate, understand and contest medical bills when the billing system is too complicated to deal with alone?

Insights & Themes

So we designed...

Service Design
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Wireframes created by: Krezia

Sherpa Medical

Medical bills are a notorious source of stress and confusion for patients. In fact, confusion is a main cause of medical debt, as patients end up spending even more on healthcare than they needed. As one patient advocate is quoted, “The system is designed to make you want to give up and just pay.” The resulting debt can snowball, and the resulting stress can harm health.

Sherpa Medical tackles these problems by providing the patient with a guide that helps them from pre-operation all the way to post-operation.

Our service design process:

1. Iteration 

From understanding the patient journey's from our interviews, we ideated a journey a patient would go through using Sherpa Medical.


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2. Prototyping

Next we decided on a video to present our prototype. My teammate Shariq and I story boarded and created the script for the video.

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3. Final Product

We created a video for our audiences to understand what the service does, what features it contains, and how the patient experience is enhanced with Sherpa Medical.

We also presented our final features:

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Video co-creation by: Shariq & Krezia

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Visual created by: Krezia

Final Product
Future Directions

5. Future directions

We realizedour service has a lot of room for improvement. If we plan to continue working on this service, we would work on the next following aspects:

Project Details:


Semester-long class project to create and design a solution on a health-related topic:

Medical Billing



  • Ideating Features

  • Participant Interviewing

  • Low fidelity Prototyping

    • Video co-creation


  • Ashlyn Anthony

  • Nikhil Mahadevan

  • Shariq Mallick


  • Miro

  • Google Workspace

  • Zoom


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