International travel has become a standard rite of passage for many millennials. Beyond providing fresh fodder for profile pictures and family newsletters, investing in the right kind of travel can yield some incredible returns. Don’t panic, I’m not going to put anyone through an Eat Pray Love lecture on how traveling feeds your soul or anything – but there is some pretty convincing evidence that there is a strong connection between traveling and having that eureka moment.
Let’s face it. If it wasn’t for whatever the Victorian equivalent of couchsurfing was – Darwin would never have had the chance to go birdwatching and come up with that whole evolution thing. Justin Fulcher had a pretty good Aha moment while traveling too, though presumably one that less college freshmen will have to write papers on.
Most people are blown away by Thailand’s beaches or China’s archeological monuments when they travel to Asia, but Fulcher’s travels and subsequent move to the continent had a different effect. The entrepreneurial whiz-kid, (who started his first business when he was thirteen), was struck by the effectiveness and efficiency he saw in some of the more successful Asian healthcare systems, like the one in Singapore (which came in 2nd place in Bloomberg’s efficiency ranking).
Modern Day House calls
One of the most egregious problems plaguing many healthcare systems is the lack of productive communication and mutual understanding between providers and patients. This is where Fulcher is hoping his company comes in. He founded RingMD in an attempt to offer a solution to one of the biggest issues facing healthcare systems and the people who use them.
RingMD is a web based platform that allows people to connect with real board certified and licensed MDs for consultations and appointments. The RingMD consultations consist of conversations between the doctor and patient via:
- video conference call
- voice call
Patients pay a by-the-minute rate that is posted upfront by the consulting physician. A user simply signs up for the service, chooses a doctor by location, issue, specialty, or rating, (patients get to evaluate the doc after each conversation), and provides three possible time slots within the next 72 hours when they would be available to receive a call from the doctor they just chose. The physician has up to 72 hours to call the patient but most requests are answered within 24 hours.
The potential benefits for patients are pretty obvious – no waiting rooms, personalized attention, and the ability to pay (by credit card) for a service that might cost less than the deductible they would have to pay if they went to a traditional clinic. But doctors and hospitals also stand to benefit from this advancement in healthcare delivery.
RingMD has the potential to help doctors build meaningful relationships with their patients by letting them by pass the constraints that insurance providers place on appointments. Yes, doctors are a busy bunch but even when they have time to spend with a patient they are forced to rush important conversations because of time limits put in place by insurance companies. RingMD provides an alternative route for practitioners looking for a way of expanding communication with their patients.
A virtual hospital may still be a ways away, but in the meantime innovative thinkers like Justin Fulcher are re-imagining how providers can approach care and communication. RingMD’s future is looking pretty bright. In addition to the $500K that Fulcher secured in funding from the Singapore’s National Research Foundation, he is working on a plan to expand his company’s reach by forming partnerships with health insurance companies (which would help clients get some of the cost of RingMD’s services covered).
The other development in the works is a RingMD app, which would bring secure and convenient messaging and video calls to patients via iOS and Andriod devices. Making healthcare more accessible can only be achieved by knocking down some major barriers. Technology is going to be a key player in the fight to provide healthcare to an increasingly under-served population.
He may be young, but RingMD founder, Justin Fulcher is at the head of the pack of entrepreneurs who stand to make a huge profit by making a difference in the world.