It looks like telehealth and concierge medicine just got cozier.
Announced last week, Ringadoc, based in San Francisco, has launched a platform that allows patients to have a telehealth consult with their own doctor. According to Mobile Health News, “Ringadoc Phone Concierge costs roughly $40 per visit… similar to a standard insurance co-pay for a visit to the doctor’s office.”
“In an increasingly congested, expensive and reactive healthcare system, the potential benefits have never been greater to begin taking better advantage of technology to introduce new, lower cost options to guide and deliver care,” said Jordan Michaels, Ringadoc co-founder and CEO. “If you aren’t the President or have a doctor in the family your only option when you get sick is to head to the emergency room or wait, often for weeks, for the next available appointment with your physician. This standard of care is extremely inefficient from a time and cost perspective, but most importantly, it can easily result in patients getting suboptimal care, or forgoing care they need.”
Ringadoc has a history of provider-facing services. They launched Ringadoc Exchange last year, a tool that, according to their App Store description, “helps medical practices efficiently manage phone calls and offer their patients concierge telephone access to generate additional revenue.”
Whereas Ringadoc Phone Concierge was made to help docs field more calls (and make more money), Ringadoc Phone Concierge is a patient-facing app. Michaels told Mobile Health News, Ringadoc handles all the billing details with the consumer before the message is forwarded to the doctor’s office, giving doctor and patient the freedom to focus on the purpose of the call.
Michaels is also very proud that the service connects consumers with their own doctors, instead of a random, anonymous provider.
Michaels said in the press release, “We give practices the tools to more efficiently manage their patient population, generate additional revenue and make their patients happier by offering the type of premium access typically reserved for only the wealthy.”
We’re going to keep the rant to a minimum, but $40 per call? And that’s to talk to a provider that you have to then pay out-of-pocket to see (very few health plans offer free doctor visits). Sure, we can see the benefit of this service to someone who can spend $40 frivolously. It’s nice to not have to drive all the way to the doctor’s office if you know you have flu symptoms, etc. However, this is a prime example of “concierge medicine” — the type of practice that instills the two-tier system cited by our critics.
However, In our direct care world, an adult under 45 could pay $10 more, and see their doctor, and text their doctor, and tweet their doctor, and skype their doctor, and email their doctor, as many times as they wanted for a month…
Most importantly, they could reduce their monthly insurance premium with a wrap-around plan…
And get their labs and prescriptions at heavily discounted rates…