Ringadoc, a hot startup funded by the prestigious Founders Fund, began as a virtual doctor consultation platform and was actually selling video calling when it launched around September of 2011. In mid-May of 2013, Ringadoc injected another $700K to its coffers for a total of $1.9M in seed funding. It also turned its focus away from eVisits to its telephone answering service for doctors. It now boasts over 100K calls made on its platform.
Virtual doctor visits the new healthcare disruptor
But with video eVisits being the hot innovation that’s changing healthcare delivery why would Ringadoc pivot away from this space? Companies in that arena are doing extremely well, such as longtime industry leader MDLIVE, as well as TelaDoc, AmericanWell; and the companies (or technology) supplying the video engines for them — VSee, Vidyo, WebRTC, and OpenTok
Is it because Ringadoc decided to focus on video too late in the game, and the big boys had already locked up the market? Or perhaps the technical challenges are too massive? After all, it wouldn’t just be handing out a video codec, but providing a complete e-Visit platform as a service. This would include rich medical features and a reliable 24×7 HIPAA-compliant server infrastructure. Currently, VSee as the only HIPAA-compliant P2P eVisit system that’s proven to work on the field from Shell Nigeria oil fields to Rwanda community health to Cigna customers anywhere (in partnership with MDLIVE.)
ShowKit – Ringadoc’s Video Calling Arm
If we take a closer look, we find that not too long ago, Ringadoc’s video chat team broke off to form a separate company ShowKit.com and created a mobile video chat SDK. (They use hardware acceleration of H.264 on iOS. This is done via a well-known and clever hack of intercepting video to be written to files and streaming it out since the official iOS SDK does not provide real-time H.264 encoding access.)It turns out that ShowKit only works on iOS, so the Ringadoc video service never worked on Windows or Mac, and its Android is yet to come. This is maybe where the problem lies.When it comes to paid services, patients want to see doctors on big video because this allows them to build trust; and providers want to see patients together with their electronic medical/health record (EMR / EHR) — mobile video is only used as a last resort. In this case, it makes sense that Ringadoc was forced to pivot away from the flourishing video eVisit field. While it picked a promising platform for its services, it didn’t pick the right platform for its use case.