Practice Fusion eyes telehealth future

New acquisition 'will advance development of our full-fledged telemedicine platform'
By Mike Miliard
11:04 AM

In a deal it says will be its "springboard for entry into the telemedicine market," cloud-based EHR developer Practice Fusion is acquiring Ringadoc, which makes communication technology linking patients with physicians.

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"There are three things necessary to make telemedicine possible: doctors, patients and data – and Practice Fusion's EHR has all of these at scale," said Ryan Howard, founder and CEO of Practice Fusion, in a press statement. "Ringadoc was a natural fit for us and will advance development of our full-fledged telemedicine platform, which could translate to avoiding millions of in-person trips to see a doctor for everything from a fever to a potential concussion."

Ringadoc, a startup launched in 2010, offers an automated, cloud-based answering service that enables doctors to access in real-time and respond to after-hours messages via a Web browser, Android or iOS apps. It also offers physicians the ability to triage patient calls and centralize communications. The technology will be integrated directly into Practice Fusion's EHR, officials say.

[See also: Practice Fusion expands, shows signs of rapid growth]

"I created Ringadoc as a way to use technology to make communication between doctors and their patients easier, faster and more cost-effective," said Jordan Michaels, co-founder and CEO, Ringadoc, in a statement. "Now that we're part of Practice Fusion, we look forward to accelerating our combined vision of telemedicine and making it a reality."

"When it's midnight on a Saturday and your child has a fever of 101, waiting the industry average of 18.5 days to see a primary care physician is not an option," said Howard. "Acquiring Ringadoc allows us to continue delivering on our mission of connecting doctors, patients and data to drive better health and save lives."

It also allows Practice Fusion to tap into a burgeoning and potentially very lucrative market. In announcing the deal, the company points to a study earlier this year from IHS, which predicts the worldwide telehealth market will grow tenfold by 2018 – to $4.5 billion, compared to roughly $450 million today.

"Amid rising expenses, an aging population and the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, the healthcare industry must change the way it operates," said Roeen Roashan, medical devices and digital health analyst at IHS Technology, in a press statement. "Telehealth represents an attractive solution to these challenges."