Ringadoc raises $700k to move closer to the frontline of virtual health care

Ringadoc, a San Francisco startup that helps doctors manage patient phone calls, has raised an additional $700,000 in seed funding.

The round, which included Siemer Ventures, Telegraph Hill Group and Dr. Lyle Dennis, a neurologist and founder of HealthKeep, brings the startup’s total amount raised to $1.9 million. Previous investors include FF Angel, Practice Fusion CEO and founder Ryan Howard and former president of One Medical Group Sharon Knight.

The startup launched in 2010 as a service for providing on-demand telephone and video chat access to physicians. For $40, consumers could use Ringadoc to connect with doctors anytime, day or night. But earlier this year, in a bid to bring more doctors on to its network, it pivoted to its current product, which targets physicians with an after-hours messaging and phone service.

Typical after-hours messaging services require patients with after-hours questions to leave messages with a non-medically trained operator, who then looks up an on-call doctor and passes the message along. When the doctor calls back, the patient needs to recount her symptoms all over again.

With Ringadoc, patients leave a secure message with a cloud-based answering service that automatically finds the appropriate physician – patients only need to explain their issues once and the cost, Ringadoc says, is cheaper than most existing systems. To date, the company said it has handled more than 100,000 phone calls for physicians.

With the new funding, CEO and founder Jordan Michaels said the company plans to beef up sales and marketing, as well as enhance the product so that it could integrate with other tools used by doctors’ offices, including practice management and electronic health records systems. Since Ringadoc is capturing valuable patient engagement data through its telephone calls, Michaels said, they want to enable doctors to make the most of that functionality.

“We’re tracking a lot of two-way conversations and that’s an important piece of the health care conversation,” Michaels said. “Our vision is to be on the frontline of virtual care for patients.”

For now, the company is focusing on its physician-focused product. But, later this year, he said, it could start expanding to patients and restore the startup’s initial mission of providing on-demand physician access to patients.

Recognizing the need to address the shortage of doctors in the U.S., other companies are also working to streamline physician-patient communication and promote virtual health care. For example, PingMD targets physicians with a mobile app for more efficiently communicating with patients and peers, HealthTap offers consumers a mobile- and web-based service for messaging and querying doctors and Sherpaa works with employers to help patients and doctors connect via video chats and phone calls.