Online Doctor Consultation
There are no providers offering this treatment online at the moment
Online doctor consultations offer the same high-quality medical care that you’d receive from your in-person healthcare provider.
Thanks to improved technological advances and the need for socially distanced medical care, virtual doctor visits are on the rise. These types of consults are more convenient, offer patients more time with doctors and nurses, and are more cost-effective than in-person treatments.
Instead of commuting to a doctor’s office, you can receive medical consultations, diagnosis, and treatment for a wide variety of health issues from the comfort and safety of your own home.
What Is an Online Doctor Consultation?
Online doctor consultations are very similar to in-person consultations. Simply log on to a telehealth website, fill out a form, explain your symptoms, and get a diagnosis. The only difference is that the entire consultation happens online or over the phone instead of in a doctor’s office.
Your online healthcare provider will usually provide a video consultation. In some cases, you may only need to message your doctor or fill out a questionnaire. If your doctor has any further questions, you may receive them via email instead of by phone or video.
Many telehealth companies also provide consultations with a doctor’s assistant or a nurse practitioner; both of which can save you both time and money, as you won’t need to wait for a doctor to become available, and these medical professionals often charge less than medical professionals with a Ph.D.
How an Online Doctor Consultation Works
An online doctor consultation works the same way an in-person appointment does. The doctor asks the patient questions, looks at symptoms via photos or video consult, and listens to audible symptoms. The doctor then prescribes treatment and/or medication — right from the comfort of the patient’s home.
Some consultations happen in real-time via messaging or video, and some simply happen over email. If you can be treated through telehealth, your doctor will diagnose your symptoms and offer a treatment plan (often including a prescription sent to your local pharmacy. Some companies send your prescription to a partner compound pharmacy, and medications can be mailed directly to your home).
Depending on the provider, you may also get free follow-up consultation; some providers also charge for follow-up consultations. Providers like Health Sapiens offer online doctor and online therapy appointments for a low monthly fee.
How Much Does an Online Doctor Consultation Cost?
Telehealth providers charge a wide variety of fees. Some charge a doctor consultation monthly membership fee (pay one low monthly fee for unlimited or specific services over the course of the year) and some charge fees on a case-by-case basis.
Some companies charge more for treating certain conditions and others simply charge one basic flat-fee rate for all services.
Most online doctor consultations start around $20 on the low end of the spectrum, while others charge up to $50 or more on the higher end. Prescription treatments often cost more, but some digital clinics will only charge you the fee for the prescription and not a fee for the consultation (though some telehealth digital clinics do charge a $5 fee for consultations when you order prescription treatments through the clinic).
Common Online Doctor Treatments
A wide variety of health services and medical services are now offered through online doctor consultations. Some of the most common types of treatments may include:
Primary care physician services
Condition diagnosis and treatments
Prescription medication refills
Common Health Conditions Treated by Online Doctors
Online doctors now address a wide variety of health concerns. You can get treated for pretty much anything online — aside from conditions that require triage, hospital stays, or close monitoring.
Online doctors and digital clinics can treat symptoms ranging from a simple cough to sneezing, back pain, kidney issues, and depression.
As long as your doctor can safely diagnose your symptoms via a message, email, video, or audio conversation, you can be treated virtually. The most common conditions treated through telehealth medicine include:
Behavioral health issues
Acid Reflux & GERD
Mental health disorders
Urinary tract infection (UTI)
Are Online Doctor Consultations Safe?
Online doctor consultations are relatively new, which is why it’s normal for patients to feel a little apprehensive about them.
The good news is that these types of consultations are completely safe. Online providers only board-certified doctors, nurse practitioners, assistants, and EMTs to offer treatment. These providers also ensure your information stays safe and secure, as they encrypt their websites and maintain secure servers.
All online medical professionals also need to follow HIPAA guidelines — just as they would if they were treating patients in person.
If a doctor can’t reasonably or safely treat you online, you’ll need to head to an in-person doctor, urgent care facility, or hospital for treatment. Sometimes online doctors can provide a referral to a specialist should you need a higher level of treatment that a telehealth professional can’t provide.
Do I Need to Be Tech-Savvy to See a Doctor Online?
One downside to most telehealth services is that you do need to be at least a little comfortable with technology to make an online doctor appointment. Most providers provide services through online portals or mobile apps, so you’ll need an internet connection to make a video visit.
Most telemedicine services are available on Androids and iPhones, though some providers will offer appointments on a web portal or via email or phone consultation.
At-home urgent care providers such as Ready offer appointments via phone. Simply call the dispatcher, and Ready will send a Responder to your home to help facilitate the visit. Ready provides all the tech you need (including an iPad for the online doctor visit and an EMT to take your vitals).
Do I Need Health Insurance for Online Doctor Visits?
The good news is that you definitely don’t need health insurance to see a doctor online! Most online visits are reasonably priced and cost around the same as a traditional co-pay, so you won’t need a health plan to see a doctor.
If you do happen to have insurance, your telehealth provider may be able to bill your insurance provider, or you may be able to get reimbursed for your visit through your health insurance. Before making an appointment, it’s always best to check with both the health provider and your health insurance carrier to determine if your treatment is covered.
Most digital clinics provide generic prescription medication, making it easier and more affordable to get treated. Most generic medications are offered at a fraction of the cost of their brand-name counterparts and cost even less than a health insurance co-pay for brand-name medication.
How Does Lab Testing Work Online?
Should you need lab testing, some online doctor can help you make an appointment at a local testing facility; the telehealth company can also usually provide the results for you when they’re available.
At-home lab testing companies like EverlyWell offer the same tests you would get at a lab from the comfort of your own home.
Simply order the test you need online, get the test in the mail, and follow the instructions to take your sample. You may need to provide a urine, saliva, or blood sample. Blood samples are taken via a simple finger prick.
Mail your sample to the lab, and get your results within a few days.
Online Doctor’s Prescriptions
In most cases, doctors can write prescriptions for patients they consult online (including prescriptions for mental health diseases and disorders, antibiotics, and non-addictive pain medications).
Most online doctors can send your prescription to your local pharmacy, or they can send the prescription to a compound pharmacy that will mail your meds right to your home or office.
Right now, doctors cannot write prescriptions for controlled substances or medications with dangerous side effects for online patients.
Can Online Doctor Appointments Really Replace In-Person Care?
The short answer? Yes, absolutely. In fact, many doctors claim that online doctor consultations are much more affordable, convenient, and efficient than in-person appointments.
Nearly 80% of the diagnosis process is asking the right questions and looking at symptoms.
Doctors can do both online via a video chat, by looking at photos of physical symptoms and listening to patients’ symptoms over the phone. Patients who opt for online consultations actually free up urgent care clinics and emergency rooms for patients that are in more desperate need of in-person care.
Doctors Providing Online Consultations
While there are dozens of doctors providing online consultations, the top telehealth providers list includes the following telehealth companies: