Healthcare Technology Featured Article

August 11, 2014

Practice Fusion Acquires Ringadoc, Fusing Technologies to Improve Health Care

The impact of Information Technology in Healthcare has become increasingly apparent; it has improved access to care for patients, led to better quality of services provided by physicians, and increased efficiency of data collection in the industry. The future is now moving to telehealth with delivery of health-related services and information via telecommunications technologies. Telemedicine has ensured the efficient exchange of information from one site to another, and has been a fundamental benefit in virtually all medical domains, ranging from making well-informed treatment decisions quickly and easily, to improving coordination of care and accuracy of diagnoses and health outcomes for patients.

Health information technology (HIT) has not only improved health care quality, but has also added convenience. HIT in hospitals and other medical facilities that employ computerized entry systems has significantly increased the efficiency of the health sector by helping providers manage information housed in the electronic medical records (EMR) or electronic health records (EHR). By storing patient records electronically, rather than working with paper versions, clinics can save time when sharing patients’ data with other care providers, as needed, in real-time, inside or outside the practice. As a result, this has improved coordination of care among providers (doctors and hospitals).

The concept of an EHR-linked patient portal has led to a seamless flow of information within a digital health care infrastructure. Running a fully functioning HIT computerized system to provide Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) of health-related data has enabled users to record and share info, as well as obtain results of diagnostic tests from physicians quickly in time of need. Despite the potentials of this system and the related benefits, adoption of HIT has been slow.

There is one such organization that has been working on making the difference in transforming healthcare with information technology, namely, San Francisco-based Practice Fusion, a HIT private company founded in 2005. The practice, which has provided a free, Web-based EHR system for physicians and medical professionals, says the adoption of interoperable EMR systems can produce efficiency in clinical decision-making and, more generally, lead to health care transformation.

Chris Hogg, a data analytics pro who co-founded 100Plus, a consumer health app developer startup that was acquired by Practice Fusion in 2013, told MobiHealthNews that 100Plus is to become an integral part of Practice Fusion’s patient engagement strategy to bridge the gap between healthcare and wellness.

Lately, as disclosed a MobiHealthNews post last Wednesday, EHR provider Practice Fusion has also acquired Ringadoc, a start-up that is an after-hours virtual visits (patient-physician consultations) company. This news follow a deal (made earlier in the year) with San Francisco-based AliveCor’s smartphone-enabled, single-channel ECG to import electrocardiogram readings, annotated reports and expert reviews into HER. This deal was reported in a MobiHealthNews February post about the ECG to EHR data integration.

RingADoc, Inc., a partner with TeleThrive to provide a virtual portal to connect customers with licensed doctors over the telephone, also brings this health tool option for Practice Fusion responsiveness to improve after hour phone consultations for patients and physicians. The TeleThrive patient-facing app, connecting patients to doctors, offers patients telephone consultations with providers for a convenience fee. Through the free Ringadoc iOS and Android app, physicians can access their messages and respond to callers with one click from a mobile device or online.

Practice Fusion CEO, Ryan Howard, believes that a full-fledged telemedicine platform could translate in avoiding millions of in-person trips to see a doctor. He says it can make a patient’s chart dynamically available to address the patient’s medical concern, while providing a better approach to “proactively managing patient care” for their entire patient population. With the acquisition of Ringadoc, Practice Fusion now provides an after-hours answering service solution that will enable doctors to assist at least 30 percent of patient cases over the phone, rather than in-person.

Howard said, in a MobiHealthNews statement, that Ringadoc was a natural fit for their move into telemedicine. It uses an automated phone solution enabling an after-hours answering service that allows patients to consult with their doctor over the phone for USD $40. Acquiring Ringadoc, Howard says, “allows [Practice Fusion] to continue delivering on [its] mission of connecting doctors, patients and data to drive better health and save lives.”

Overall, an integrating telehealth system increases access to medical specialty services  and makes the exchange of digital data more manageable. Today, electronic medical services and telemedicine technologies are an integral part of many healthcare organizations, improving practice efficiency and yielding better patient care, while allowing practitioners better communication to care for their patients. 

Edited by Adam Brandt

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