Ringadoc lets you pay a flat fee to instantly talk to a real doctor at any hour of the day, and its big vision to be “the frontline of primary care” has landed it a $750,000 seed round led by FF Angel. So if its 2am and you’ve got some weird rash, you can call Ringadoc’s toll-free number, record a quick description of your condition, and get matched with a doctor who’ll give you medical advice or a diagnosis, write you a prescription, and tell you whether to wait until you doctor’s office opens or go to the hospital immediately.
The money comes from from Founders Fund’s seed investment vehicle as well as Ringadoc board member Ryan Howard, CEO and founder of electronic medical records startup Practice Fusion. Right now Ringadoc is just a phone number and app for patients, but the seed will pay for key hires as well as development of a direct-to-doctor product physicians can distribute to their patients. Ringadoc is available in California today, but it hopes to bring instant medical gratification to more places soon.
Ringadoc’s founder Jordan Michaels told me a story of how he got poison oak one weekend but couldn’t get his primary care doctor on the phone. With Ringadoc, he got a virtual house call from a doctor in two minutes so he could find out how to take care of himself. “Why not enable people? Their time is valuable, and in-person visits to the doctor don’t fit into normal people’s schedules anymore” Michaels tells me.
Ringadoc costs just $39.99 per consultation with no time limit. There’s no appointment to set up, and no need to call your insurance company. You just pay out of pocket — probably less than what you co-pay at the doctor’s office. The consultation could help you avoid an expensive but needless trip to the emergency room, or save you from freaking out all night or weekend until you doctor’s office opens.
Sure, “you’re not going to be able to get your temperature or blood pressure taken, or have the doctor look down your throat, but there’s stil a lot that can be handled” says Michaels. Ringadoc is also testing an iOS and Android app in California that lets you shoot footage of your condition and talk face-to-face with doctors over real-time video. Eventually it hopes to pull in data from the new waves of medical and fitness devices so doctors could measure your vitals remotely, and its actively looking for those partners now.
Michaels tells me Founders Fund was a natural choice because of their investment in other medtech companies and focus on life changing ideas, like Ringadoc’s mission is to become the backbone of all patient-to-doctor communication. If the service takes off, Ringadoc could shake the insurance industry it sidesteps. “[We want patients to] have a great experience, then call their insurance company and say ‘why don’t you offer this?’”.
Founders Fund partner Bruce Gibney crystallizes the value-add of Ringadoc: “Direct, no-wait access to physicians has not been solved even though telepresence is extraordinarily fast, cheap and widespread. Ringadoc has finally solved that problem and will bring relief to thousands of people with immediate medical needs.”
Postscript: Thinking more about Ringadoc, I believe they’re going to gain serious traction. Whether it can become wildly profitable at the highly affordable current price point remains to be seen, but it removes the barriers to being sure about one’s health. It could even get serious conditions diagnosed earlier because people don’t have to wait until their next appointment. I’m almost excited for my next medical scare when I can have my fears calmed remotely by a Ringadoc doc.