Cloud-based electronic health record (EHR) platform developer Practice Fusion announced it has acquired patient-doctor communication specialist Ringadoc.
The company offers an automated, cloud-based answering service that allows doctors to access and respond to after-hours messages through a Web browser or Android or Apple mobile application, for a starting price of $69 per provider.
Ringadoc, which was founded in 2010, has attracted seed funding from FF Angel, Wavemaker Partners (formerly Siemer Ventures) and Telegraph Hill Capital.
The company’s service will integrate into Practice Fusion’s cloud-based EHR for health care professionals and provide Practice Fusion a springboard for entry into the telemedicine market.
"Each month, 5.2 million in-person patient visits are facilitated by our platform, yet 20 to 30 percent of those visits could actually take place over the phone," Ryan Howard, founder and CEO of Practice Fusion, told eWeek. "If we moved that 20 percent to the phone, there's considerable upside for Practice Fusion."
The global telehealth market is expected to grow by more than a factor of 10 from 2013 to 2018, as medical providers increasingly employ remote communications and monitoring technology to reduce costs and improve the quality of care, according to January report from IT research firm IHS Technology.
"With our vision of telemedicine, we want to enable remote patient care outside of the doctor's office," Howard said. "Ringadoc will help us advance development of this platform, ultimately giving doctors more options for delivering care and patients more options for reaching their doctors."
The number of patients using telehealth services-- defined as the use of medical devices and communication technology together to monitor diseases and symptoms--will rise to 7 million in 2018, up from less than 350,000 in 2013, the IHS report noted.
Factors that will benefit the expansion of telehealth include the anticipated growth in wearable technology and the quantified self within a connected home context, aimed at developing a sustainable platform for preventive care, according to the report.
"Our mission is to connect physicians, patients and data to drive better health and save lives," Howard said. "We've done that through our EHR and hope to do the same through telemedicine. We ultimately want to create an end-to-end connected ecosystem that enables providers to deliver the best possible patient care, at lower cost than today."
He also noted that health IT is enabling better care, without a doubt, and is one of the reasons the company developed its cloud-based EHR platform to help doctors get off paper and onto electronic health records.
"Our free EHR empowers doctors to deliver better patient care by providing 24/7 access to patients, partners and medical resources," he explained. "We help them get the information they need to do their jobs better. On the patient side, consumer portals like Patient Fusion encourage patients to take better control of their health through access to their health records, doctor ratings and reviews, and online appointment booking."