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How Online Doctors Work

According to research, nearly 25% of Americans don't have a primary care doctor. An equal number of Americans avoid getting medical help when they need it simply because of the cost. According to a study from 2017, the average cost of a visit to the emergency room was $1,389. Urgent care visits tend to be around $150 per visit.

On top of the cost, the time factor has also convinced many people that heading to a doctor or a hospital may not be worthwhile. It takes patients an average of 24 days to schedule the first appointment with a new doctor in America. It even takes about an hour and a half on average to get into the ER.

For these reasons, online doctors have become a very viable and effective alternative to seeing a doctor in person. There are plenty of advantages to virtual doctor’s appointments that many patients aren't even aware of until they try it themselves. With these telehealth services, it’s possible to receive a high level of care without having to leave home.

What Are the Advantages of Choosing an Online Doctor?

Some of the main benefits of using online doctors are time, cost, and convenience. Many online doctor services provide care at a fraction of the cost that you would have to pay out of pocket for a visit to the ER or even your family doctor. Even better, many of these online doctor services accept insurance and have partnered with major employers across America to offer further discounts.

You're also able to meet with a doctor much faster than you would through traditional, in-person appointments. Most online doctor services are available 24/7. They offer a pool of professionals from across the country who can assist you either over the phone or by video chat. Depending on the service you use, it's not unheard of to consult with a doctor within 15 to 30 minutes.

Rest assured, you'll be able to see the qualifications of the doctor who treats you. In most cases, you’ll also be able to read reviews from other patients. That way you can assess if the doctor is going to meet your needs before you meet with them.

Additionally, when you use these services, they are also able to connect you with specialists. Normally when a doctor connects you with a specialist, you may have to wait months for an appointment. When you work with an online doctor service, the wait time is generally much shorter.

What Services Do Online Doctors Offer?

The range of services that you are able to receive from online doctors is quite impressive. Obviously, there is some variation in services offered by each online doctor company, but most have the same basic level of service. For instance, you can expect any online doctor should be able to help you with things like:

There will likely be a host of other concerns that you can get addressed easily and efficiently with the online doctor you choose. Essentially, if it's a problem that you would visit urgent care for rather than the emergency room, an online doctor should be able to assist you with it.

Online doctors are, in many cases, able to prescribe medication as well. Most require an appointment that takes place over video chat, so that the doctor can see you face-to-face before prescribing medication. Then, they’ll electronically send the prescription to a pharmacy of your choice. That means if you see the doctor at 3 a.m., you can have a prescription waiting for you the moment the pharmacy opens in the morning.

Many online doctor services also offer a range of care beyond medical. This includes things like therapists and psychiatrists. These professionals can assist in dealing with many issues, including:

Not every online doctor service offers mental health care, so it's best to compare services to see which one will meet your full range of needs.

In addition to care for yourself, many online doctor services can also provide care for your entire family. For one price, some services allow everyone in your family to use their service.

The Bottom Line

Online doctors have proven themselves to be an exceptional, cost-effective alternative to in-person doctor’s visits. The physicians who work with these services are just as skilled as a doctor you would see in an ER or at a clinic. You'll save yourself the hassle of arranging appointments, sitting around waiting rooms, and even traveling out of town to meet with specialists. Many online doctors can even prescribe medication and do lab work. There are many advantages to using an online doctor.