College is a time when anything and everything could happen — including getting sick. For those who hate to wait in long lines at the doctor’s office — and who doesn’t — there is a new service that instantly connects students to a doctor over the phone at anytime.
RingADoc, based in Beverly Hills, is run through TeleThrive software. The service seeks to use the latest technology to expand and streamline health care access, according to the company’s website.
“I think the leaders involved in healthcare need to realize that our escalating physician shortage combined with increased patient demand is only going to continue to strain our health system and our ability to access medical care,” said Jordan Michaels, one of the founders.
Michaels, a USC graduate, and co-founder Mika Grossman believe RingADoc will be the quickest way to get the patient to a health care provider without having to deal with a lot of red tape.
When patients call in, they describe their chief complaints and are then connected to the appropriate TeleThrive physician provider. The physician then provides medical advice to the patient. Patients will have the option of speaking to a physician they have already spoken to if they are a returning caller.
Each call costs $39 — with or without health insurance. But, Michaels said, the company is working to lower costs for students.
“It’s one of my personal goals to partner with these health centers to reduce the $39 to a cost much more affordable for students,” Michaels said. “I am currently trying to work with USC Health Services as well.”
Although some hospital co-payments are more than $39, there are many that are cheaper, making RingADoc’s rates undesirable to some. Shannon Goddard, a sophomore majoring in business administration (cinematic arts), said she thinks the price should be reduced.
“In theory, I think this is a great idea because no one likes having to go to the doctor’s office or the health center and have to wait to get diagnosed,” Goddard said. “But the price seems a bit unreasonable, especially when I could go to the health center for ‘free’ with my insurance.”
Michaels said that the company has been approached by university and college health centers who are interested in offering this service as a supplement to the care they already provided.
Global Medical Networks, P.C. provides the doctors that RingADoc members are connected with. The doctors are credentialed every year, making sure that the advice they give is sound.
“This is a feature I am very proud of,” Michaels said.
There are currently safeguards in place to prevent possible manipulation of the system for the purpose of obtaining prescriptions.
This service gives rise to a wide array of opinions. Eric Holoman, a sophomore majoring in business administration, said it is a good idea — as long as it is being monitored.
“I feel like there’s some room for misuse,” Holoman said. “Patients might try to get prescriptions they don’t actually need and doctors and … might prescribe medicines without looking at the case as thoroughly as they would in an office.”
Doctors are not allowed to prescribe any drugs that are easily abused, such as, Vicodin, Codeine and other drugs.
According to Michaels, this service is for those short-term health issues or concerns that might need short and quick prescriptions when patients are not able to get to a doctor, or if an appointment is unecessary.
“The doctors obviously understand the limitations of the telephone and therefore use professional judgment when considering a prescription,” Michaels said.
There are still some who are skeptical of the service’s worth, however.
“So, in the end, wouldn’t you have to go into the doctor’s office anyway?” Goddard said. “I believe that the most effective way to be diagnosed accurately is to actually go in and see a doctor face-to-face.”