Are online doctors worth it?

A doctor online can fit the bill as regular visits with a doctor are an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle, but the choice is up to you. Online doctor appointments are becoming the norm for many Americans looking for more convenience and flexibility.

Making regular doctor appointments and scheduling routine tests helps you find problems in their earliest stages, when your chances for treatment and a cure are better. Frequent screenings and age-appropriate exams are key to living a longer, healthier life.

A doctor on demand is a viable option for patients who cannot always attend regular checkups. Likewise, online doctor appointments can eliminate frequent trips to the office, which can add up in gas and mileage.

However, seeing a doctor online may not always be the best option. There are many symptoms and illnesses that require in-person care. Visiting a doctor in person is always the best measure when an emergency arises. To learn more about online doctors and to determine if these appointments may work for you, continue reading the topics discussed below.

About the Benefits of Seeing a Doctor Online

You may see an online doctor free of charge depending on your condition and situation. Telemedicine, otherwise known as virtual medicine or online medicine, offers less expensive alternatives to in-person doctor visits, for both patients and providers. Likewise, therapy for mental health is also available through online sources.

Some free online doctor consultation appointments are available for those who qualify. These consultations can provide answers to quick questions and help patients better understand their symptoms.

Having a doctor on demand via smartphone or computer means increased access in certain parts of the country. In many rural areas throughout the U.S., patients struggle to find doctors and specialists. Similarly, rural patients may need to wait longer periods to schedule appointments. Online medicine provides almost immediate consultations.

Online doctors can also monitor patients more effectively, especially those with chronic conditions such like high blood pressure. Both the patient and the doctor can communicate frequently, providing more efficient care.

Seeing a doctor online means no more waiting in a stuffy room for the doctor to call. Patients may be required to wait online before the consultation, but at least they won’t be surrounded by sick people. Physical waiting rooms expose patients to germs, and elderly patients or those with weak immune systems are the most vulnerable.

Rather than traveling to see a specialist or get a second opinion, patients can consult with these professionals quickly by scheduling an online appointment. This saves a tremendous amount of money in travel costs and reduces the time it takes to receive the second opinion.

Disadvantages of Seeing a Doctor Online

As convenient as an online doctor can be, there are many situations in which seeing a doctor in-person is best.

The biggest complaint of seeing a doctor online is that it can feel like a depersonalized experience. Visiting a doctor in person fosters an important bond and trust between the patient and the doctor. Speaking to someone via video chat or web chat can be highly impersonal.

Some patients may not disclose other important issues that they would in person. Speaking face-to-face with a doctor allows the patient to discuss unrelated matters that may play a key role in the course of treatment, like lifestyle and schedule.

Some doctor on demand reviews include complaints of a less thorough examination. Unlike in-person visits, online consultations are not accompanied by a physical wellness check. Non-verbal cues and body language are important factors that help doctors determine the cause of an illness. A video session does not always convey these important cues.

As such, an online doctor prescription may not be as accurate as it could be. Improper diagnoses are dangerous; taking the wrong medicine or combining various types of medication can be deadly. These mistakes are more likely during an online consultation.

Sometimes, technology is not as reliable as it should be. During an online consultation, the internet connection may get disrupted. Technical issues such as this can delay your appointment or cause miscommunication between you and the doctor.

When should I visit a doctor in person?

Seeing a doctor online has a time and a place. Patients who are seriously ill or are in the midst of a medical emergency should never take the time to log into an app or find a doctor website.

An online doctor will not be of much help during a medical crisis. The best course of action is to call 911 or visit the emergency room. During medical emergencies, such as a stroke or heart attack, patients can usually call their primary care physicians and speak to someone who is on call.

Consulting with a doctor on demand for serious conditions will not help much either. Most online doctor appointments can help with small issues, such as a cold, acid reflux, stomach viruses or urinary tract infections. There are many other reasons patients would need to consult with a doctor, which often come with serious symptoms and side effects.

Certain types of ailments and illnesses are better treated by a doctor in person. For example, patients experiencing mysterious pain or feeling strange lumps and bumps will not receive the best help from a doctor via video chat.

An in-person doctor can use his or her training and expertise to perform a complete physical examination. Pressing on certain areas, feeling for abnormalities and examining parts up close can make a world of a difference in pinpointing the exact cause of an issue.

Other Info

Check the restrictions for telemedicine in your state—your insurance plan or Medicaid health insurance cover a virtual visit at the same rate as seeing a regular doctor and even more only require coverage from Medicaid.

Do your research. Make sure the website is secure (look for an “https” in your browser’s address bar), and double check licenses. Your state should have a way to check the licenses for both pharmacies (for those services that will deliver your prescription) and doctors.