Ringadoc’s CEO & Co-Founder Jordan Michaels explains how his new startup is answering the call for today’s busy physicians.
If you think physicans in the U.S are busy now, just wait. In 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will go into full effect and bring an influx of 40 million newly insured patients along with it. The patient influx is predicted to inundate doctors. What remains uncertain, however, is how those doctors will manage those impending demands. But, hold the phone, there may be solutions out there that can help—ones that begin by picking up a phone—as a matter of fact.
At least that’s the claim of Jordan Michaels and Micah Grossman, founders of a new telecommunications technology that also shares their company’s namesake: Ringadoc. The software-based solution seeks to simplify after-hour communications between patients and doctors by automatically answering patient calls and alerting on-call doctors efficiently and swiftly of patient needs.
When patients call a doctor who uses Ringadoc (which takes an average of 10 minutes to setup), they are prompted to answer a few relative questions, indicate if their matter is urgent, and record a personalized message for the doctor. Then, the system will alert the on-call physician of the message via a phone call, SMS, text message, or push notification. It’s a simple solution that eliminates the errors and costs associated with human-operated answering services, according to Michaels.
“The doctor can take the call when she is ready to respond by directly connecting to the patient privately or simply by sending the patient a one-way message” he explained. “That’s it. The doctor goes on with his or her night, the patient gets an answer, and it’s all done with minimum fuss or hassle. Nothing gets lost in translation or in transit. It’s a simple and direct dialogue that stays between the patient and the doctor.”
Such a direct dialogue protects patient privacy, but what about the risk associated with technology and protecting physician privacy? It seems Ringadoc has that covered, too. The doctors’ cell phone number always stays private because the caller ID always displays the practice number. All messages are centralized and and kept online, available to access anytime online via a secure log-in. All patient data is stored in an encrypted, HIPAA-compliant format. Only your consulting doctor can access your medical information, and only with your permission.
“The best part is there is no need to write anything down, play unnecessary phone tag, or track down messages,” said Michaels. “The messages are available and easy to access anytime, and in-turn, so is the physician to address the needs of his or her patients.”
Michaels continued: “As the demands physicians face increase, so will the need for their offices to run efficiently. Ringadoc leverages technology and automation to make physicians’ lives easier, it also gives them the ability to ‘triage’ patients before responding to them, which cuts down on unnecessary office visits for matters that are not actually urgent. Essentially, Ringadoc aids today’s busy physicians by helping them make better use of their time by better managing their patients.”
Cost seems to also be another key feature of the solution. In comparison with answering services, some of which can cost as much as $500 per month, Ringadoc comes in at just $49 per month. Both the cost and the simplicity of Ringadoc seem promising, but is there really physician demand for such a solution?
Yes, quite a demand, according to Michaels. In fact, it was physician interest that helped Ringadoc redirect its intended purpose and path. Originally, Michaels created a business plan for a platform capable of directly connecting patients and physicians with a consumer-centric approach. The idea was to provide consumers with the ability to speak with a physician 24/7 via telemedicine consultations. However, it was doctors who enthusiastically expressed interest in the call-routing technology, pivoting Ringadoc’s ambitions toward practice management.
Now, with its sights set on making physicians lives easier, Ringadoc’s intentions are pretty clear. “We do one thing, and we do it well,” said Michaels. “Our overall goal is to be the front-line for all medical care by building the most trusted virtual network of physicians available, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”
The company seems to be off to a healthy head start toward fulfilling that ambition. To date, Ringadoc has fielded more than 100,000 calls and is available both in the U.S and in Canada. The company hopes to increase those numbers with the $1.5 million in seed funding it has received from FF Angel, which is operated by the Founders Fund and Peter Thiel’s seed investment vehicle.
But Ringadoc’s ambitions won’t end there. Michael’s said the company also plans to give physicians the option of monetizing patient calls if they wish to provide full medical consultations via video conferencing, photo sharing, and audio recordings. Additionally, the company would like to add smart triaging, transcription, and outbound appointment reminder features to Ringadoc’s technology.
Still, the company will remain focused on its “one thing” as Michaels said. Ringadoc’s startup approach has been an interesting one, having set out to address patient needs, but in the end, building greater opportunities by addressing the needs of doctors first.
The lesson other startups can learn from Ringadoc is an easy one: simple goals, and flexible strategic moves, can yield significant opportunities. Technologies such as Ringadoc may be seeking to make physicians lives easier, but in turn, it will make patients lives easier. Perhaps, as a result, patients will be more engaged and empowered when it comes to tending to their health. That, too, may help eliminate some of the needs promised to emerge from patients in 2014.
It’s hard to predict what will be the ultimate benefit for patients or doctors from technologies like Ringadoc. But at the very least, patients can take solace in the fact that answers to their questions via a physician are just one phone call away. That has to be music to patients’ ears—far more pleasant than the elevator music that comes with waiting on-hold for a doctor anyway.
Interested in trying Ringadoc? Right now, HIT Consultant readers can click here to sign up for a one-month free trial.