Telehealthcare has changed the way we view primary care medicine. Doctors that offer online services have more time to spend with patients, can offer a higher level of care, and rarely (if ever) make patients wait for their appointments.
Yet, what happens when you actually want to see your doctor in real life from time to time? If you don’t want to hoof it to a brick-and-mortar location every time you need to see a doctor (but would still like some face-time with your primary care provider), check out these online/in-person hybrid doctors.
Most are located in major metro areas, so you’ll need to be within driving distance of the office for an annual appointment. Some of the doctors on this list even offer home visits (as long as you live within the service area).
Primary care physicians (also known as preventative care physicians and general practitioners) are doctors who deal with a huge list of preventative, general, and urgent care medical issues. It’s essentially an umbrella term for a doctor or nurse practitioner that is generally your first point of contact for most health issues.
This doctor will refer you to a specialist if you need more specialized care. The most common types of primary care physicians include the following:
If you need specialized primary care, your doctor might refer you to someone that focuses on the treatment you need, including:
Ideally, primary care providers should help you find ways to maximize your health and prevent future problems, based on a variety of factors. The most common factors doctors look at when determining a patient’s needs include:
Primary and preventative care is an important area of medicine. People who focus on this type of care tend to lead healthier lives, live longer, and spend less money on urgent care and emergency care.
The not-so-good news is that some studies show that fewer and fewer people have a primary care doctor. In 2019, JAMA Internal Medicine found that in 2015 only 75% of Americans had a primary care provider (down from 77% in 2012). JAMA isn’t sure why Americans are ditching their PCP, but it suspects that many are turning to urgent care clinics instead.
What does this mean for patients? For some, it could mean that cancer, mental health, diabetes, and other underlying issues could go undetected.
For many primary healthcare providers, regular check-ups can help spot issues before they become chronic conditions. It could mean spending less on your healthcare in general; catching a health issue before it becomes chronic can save you money over time.
It’s like bringing your car in for an oil change every few months. If you do it, it only costs about $100. But if you don’t? You could end up with thousands of dollars of repairs down the road.
The main benefits primary care providers offer include:
Primary care physicians can also detect problems that you might not even know exist! Many people with mental health disorders don’t catch the signs and symptoms themselves. Even mental health professionals can miss their own symptoms of depression and need a doctor to help spot them.
It’s human nature to assume that everything’s OK — until our symptoms catch up to us. Our guess? Many Americans don’t want to be ‘sold’ a cure that they don’t need. They feel fine, so they don’t get a checkup. We’re so used to having a reactionary approach to our lives that we forget we have preventative measures to bypass problems altogether.
Since primary care doctors are usually the gatekeepers of the medical world, they’re your first point of contact for pretty much all health issues (except emergency healthcare).
Below is our (not-so) shortlist of conditions treated by most primary care doctors:
Membership-based preventative care offers a high level of service by utilizing both brick-and-mortar offices and online care.
It provides the same services as a concierge doctor at a lower price point. Doctors can spend more time with patients during a day when they’re diagnosing most patients via video chat. They’re rarely ever late to an appointment because they’re never rushed with patients or overbooked.
Since most services are offered online or in patients’ homes, these doctors’ offices don’t need to spend the majority of their money on rent. Doctors can take home more of their pay and charge patients less.
Most membership medicine brick-and-mortar locations are stylishly designed and utilize the latest technology. Some even have their own on-site pharmacies to help streamline the process even more. Others partner with online pharmacies to provide low-cost prescription medications delivered right to a patient’s doorstep.
Membership medicine is often compared to concierge medicine. While it’s a natural comparison, these two types of medicine aren’t interchangeable. Discover the main difference between the two — and which is right for you.
Concierge medicine offers patients a higher quality of contact and highly specialized care. While most membership medicine providers are also concierge doctors, not all concierge doctors are membership medicine providers. If you’re as confused as we are, read on to discover the difference.
Concierge doctors often charge a higher premium than most primary care physicians. They keep their patient lists short and in doing so, they can provide a higher level of care to patients.
What does this mean in lay terms? Doctors can spend more time with patients and even offer at-home or on-location care.
The biggest downside? You’ll end up paying up the wazoo for a concierge doctor. If you’ve got plenty of disposable income, have at it! But if you don’t have a vault of money akin to Scrooge McDuck’s (or even health insurance in some cases), you can always opt for a membership medicine provider and get the same high-end care — only for less money.
Yes, yes — thousand times yes! Concierge doctors usually operate the same as regular in-person primary care providers. They can bill health insurance in most cases. Though, many health insurance plans won’t cover the total cost of a concierge doctor’s services.
Many concierge doctors’ copays are much higher than a typical doctor’s copays. The trade-off was always that the health services that you would get from a concierge doctor were worth the extra money — if you could afford them.
Most patients only spend a few minutes with their primary care provider each year. More and more patients report sitting in waiting rooms for an inordinate amount of time to see a doctor — only to spend an equally inordinately short amount of time with the physician.
What’s even worse is that some doctors have biases when it comes to treating patients. Women — especially women of color — are often not given the treatments they need and report doctors refusing treatment because they simply don’t listen to complaints regarding symptoms. Many women are also told they need to lose weight before doctors will treat them, and sometimes doctors misdiagnose someone who is overweight altogether.
Specialized care can help patients bypass those problems, and concierge medicine was one of the first industries to offer it. Instead of spending only a few minutes with your doctor, you spend 45-to-60 minutes chatting about your health concerns.
In many cases, concierge doctors will come to you. Home visits can be especially helpful because doctors and nurse practitioners can catch problems that you might not even know exist. Peeking into your medicine cabinet, checking out your fridge, and pawing through your pantry can give your doctor a more holistic view of your symptoms and lifestyle.
Concierge doctors are extremely popular with parents, as they solve many medical problems parents face these days. Parents can call the doctor day or night. When a child is too sick to go into the doctor’s office, the doctor can make a housecall.
Some of the benefits of concierge medicine include:
Membership medicine offers plenty of benefits over traditional medicine. Some of the top benefits include:
Membership medicine can offer a higher level of care at an affordable price. Doctors can treat patients virtually (saving money on brick-and-mortar locations), and they can spend more time with each patient.
Doctors can offer a higher level of care when they make house calls and utilize virtual visits.
Most patients only spend a few minutes with their doctor each year (after sitting in a waiting room for an inordinate amount of time and chatting with the nurse practitioner).
Membership medicine allows doctors to spend (on average) about 45 minutes with patients during an appointment. Doctors are more often on time because they aren’t rushing from patient to patient.
The in-person/online hybrid system offers a higher level of care for patients. You don’t need to travel to your doctor’s office for every little issue as most appointments can be scheduled online.
Need an answer to a health question? Have unusual symptoms? Need an easy checkup? Most of these appointments are offered via video or phone chat.
When you do need to see your doctor in-person, membership medicine offers appointments that are worth the drive. In some cases, your doctor may even travel to your home for an appointment.
Brick-and-mortar offices are often stylishly designed; waiting rooms are spaces you don’t mind waiting in — even though most wait times are under five minutes.
In some cases, doctors that work at membership medicine offices can even make house calls. In these cases, doctors can check out your medicine cabinet, your fridge, and even your vitamin drawer to get a holistic view of your health.
Or, your doctor may even travel to your home if you’re too sick to leave your home. This highly-specialized level of care was once only available through expensive concierge doctors. Membership medicine offers these services at more affordable prices. Some patients may be able to afford these services without health insurance.
One of the most impressive service offerings through membership medicine is specialized women’s healthcare. Women often complain that they don’t get enough time with their doctors and are often misdiagnosed.
With heart disease-causing one in four deaths in women, there’s obviously a market for specialized women’s care. Women also need highly specialized sexual healthcare. Many sexual healthcare problems go undetected, so companies like Parsley Health specialize in women’s health to offer more specialized services.
Many patients head to urgent care clinics and emergency rooms when they need urgent care. Yet most patients who do so could have gotten their symptoms diagnosed via a phone or video call.
No need to leave the house when you already don’t feel good — or be exposed to sicker patients.
Doctors can write prescriptions and have medications delivered right to a patient’s doorstep or send the prescription to a local pharmacy.
In the age of COVID-19, many urgent care centers are requesting patients to schedule online appointments to free up clinic space for sicker patients.
Primary care membership medicine has gotten pretty popular. It offers a higher level of service for patients that prefer to see the doctor online or for patients that would rather see their doctor in person.
The biggest downside to hybrid doctor’s offices is that they’re usually only located in major cities. If you live in a rural area, you probably won’t be close enough to a brick-and-mortar location to take advantage of the full offering of services. This can be a major problem since half the point of online medicine is to offer services to people who live too far away from a primary care provider.
Forward is one of our favorite primary care providers. You don’t need to live near a Forward office to be a member (though, heading into the office does have its benefits). This online doctor relies on data, testing, and technology to provide a higher level of service to patients. It was founded by Google special projects former employee Adrian Aoun on the principle that doctors shouldn’t be forced to use antiquated health recording methods, such as sticky notes, outdated software, and clipboard.
Instead, the company uses cutting-edge technology, such as body scanners, to offer a holistic view of a patient’s health. The app stores all health information, and patients can share such information with specialists.
You’re free to make either in-person or virtual appointments. Most biometric tests are mailed to a home address and recorded by the patient. Techs schedule at-home lab visits, so there’s no need to head to drive to an appointment ever again.
Parsley offers similar services as Forward. Its biggest point of difference is that Parsley specializes in women’s healthcare. It specializes in offering patients a holistic view of their health. Combining nutrition with western medicine, Parsley understands there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to medicine.
This company requires patients to live within driving distance of the closest office as they need to travel to an office for the first appointment; however, after the first appointment, patients can schedule online appointments.
Doctors at Parsley also require patients to see a gynecologist each year (not included at the Parsley office).
Firefly Health is a primary care hybrid in-person and online doctor’s office in Massachusetts. It caters to patients in the Boston metro area. It strives to offer a higher level of care through longer visits and compassionate healthcare providers.
Patients can access their health data via an app and discover information to help them lead healthier lives. Doctors look at a holistic view of a patient’s health — from mental health to biological conditions. Firefly prides itself on offering patients a healthcare team with a primary care provider, nurse practitioner, and dietician. It even hires specialists that offer healthcare services that most primary care physicians don’t offer.
One Medical is one of the few hybrid healthcare providers on this list that offers primary care services in major cities all over the U.S.
Patients can access same-day primary care round the clock. Doctors are available ‘after hours’ via video chat and messaging or during regular business hours in one of 85 stylishly-decorated offices. The maximum average wait time to see a doctor in person is five minutes.
Medical records are kept in your file within the app, and you can even make appointments directly in the app!
With an annual subscription fee of $200, this membership medicine provider is a little pricier than some of the others on this list (each procedure is charged similarly to a regular doctor’s visit). Yet, One Medical insists that this high level of primary and preventative care can actually save you money down the line on urgent care and emergency room visits.
Online hybrids can also still save you time and money by encouraging you to make urgent care appointments online. Most urgent care clinics charge a minimum $200 fee per visit — and force you to wait for hours as sicker patients arrive and are prioritized before you.
You can also turn on notifications within the app to remind you to schedule flu shots, vaccinations, and annual physicals. All of these preventative care measures can reduce the likelihood of urgent care issues down the line.
Check out our full list of online doctors that specialize in membership medicine, telehealth, and mental health.