The Benefits of Having an Online Doctor
It’s an unfortunate fact that many people avoid trips to the doctor due to time, money, or other reasons. Almost universally, this leads to a poorer quality of life and poorer health outcomes. The impulse is understandable, however—traditional doctor’s visits can be quite time-consuming, expose you to a lot of sick people, and cost a lot—especially if you don’t have insurance. It can also be an enormous hassle when all you’re looking to do is manage a condition or medication, get a prescription renewal, or address relatively simple and straightforward health issues. Thanks to technology, however, this doesn’t have to hold you back any longer. Now, you can reap the benefits of better health and more effective healthcare with an online doctor.
The State of Telemedicine and Telehealth Today
Until recently, telemedicine and telehealth services have primarily been focused on providing care to rural and underserved areas. Consumer services have only come into their own in the US in the last few years. With almost everyone having a smartphone, tablet, or computer and an internet connection, the “tipping point” for making an online doctor service accessible and easy to use has finally arrived.
These days, there are several types of online doctor visits or services that are available. On the one hand, traditional doctors, specialists, clinics, and hospitals are starting to offer more services online. In some sense, they are basically expanding and augmenting their brick-and-mortar offerings, doing more patient follow-up and other tasks online, and so on. On the other side are dedicated telehealth firms, offering virtual medical consultations exclusively for many common conditions and health services. This latter type of online doctor or provider is what we’re focused on in the balance of this article.
Most online doctor companies out there today offer one or more options for patients to seek an appointment. Phone calls or voice chats are where much of telemedicine began and still remain available from many providers. Live text-based chat or email-based interactions are also offered by some providers.
The most popular communication method for online medical appointments today, however, is most definitely modern two-way video chats. Typically, online doctor services have their own proprietary software that is quick and easy to install the first time a patient seeks an appointment—as simple as popular clients like Skype, Zoom, and similar. It may be accessed on a phone, tablet, or computer and provides the same kind of face-to-face interaction as a physical appointment without all the time, hassles, and other detractions.
Types of Services Available from an Online Doctor
Depending on the company, an online doctor firm today usually offers a wide range of services. Most of the services and conditions they treat tend to be those that don’t require an in-person examination or laboratory testing. This is a natural outgrowth of the remote nature of an online physician. In addition, certain local or state regulations may limit or govern what a doctor can treat, prescribe, or diagnose online in certain jurisdictions. A key factor for most online doctors is their professional ethics codes, which prohibit them from treating or diagnosing conditions that would otherwise require an in-person exam.
With all of that said, the most common types of services available and conditions treated by online doctor firms today include:
- Renewing and writing prescriptions
- Diagnosing and treating rashes/skin complaints
- Management and treatment of acne/pimples/other skin conditions
- Management of asthma
- Addressing male sexual health/erectile dysfunction, including prescription medications
- Treating baldness or hair loss
- Treating common conditions like cold sores, athlete’s foot, etc.
- Preventing and treating urinary tract infections
- Smoking cessation
- Management of cholesterol and blood pressure
- Diagnosing and treating colds, flu, and other minor complaints
- Management and treatment of mental health conditions
Again, the exact list of conditions or services available from any given online doctor company will vary from the next. Usually, much of this information is provided on their website and/or discussed through digital patient questionnaires prior to requesting an appointment. You should always review what a given online doctor service offers and treats so that your expectations and capabilities align prior to engaging with an online medical provider for treatment.
Online Doctor Myths and Facts
Before we address some of the benefits of having an online doctor in your life, it’s useful to debunk some online medicine myths with facts. Because this is a relatively new area of healthcare for many people, it’s easy for misinformation and misconceptions about an online medical provider service to spread and take hold. Since this may inadvertently make some people hesitant to consult with an online physician or use an online doctor service, setting the record straight is important.
- Myth: Online doctor “visits” are basically emailing or texting back and forth. Fact: There are multiple ways to communicate for an online consult, and it varies from company to company. Most, however, offer video conferences, while some also offer audio/phone appointments and live chat/text or email communications as well. Typically, online doctor services allow you to choose the communication method that makes the most sense for you, your technology comfort level, and what kind of appointment or service you are seeking.
- Myth: Online doctor companies don’t employ “real” doctors. Fact: Any reputable company working in the field of online medicine employs only board-certified, licensed doctors in their respective states or countries. These may be specialists, general practitioners, or some other mix of trained, accredited doctors, nurses, and therapists.
- Myth: You can only get a diagnosis from an in-person visit, not an online appointment. Fact: While it is true that some conditions (especially emergent, acute, or undiagnosed conditions) may be best served with an in-person doctor or hospital visit, there are still a wealth of medical services that an online doctor can provide. That includes diagnoses of many common conditions, as well as treatment, prescriptions, and much more.
- Myth: You can’t get a prescription from an online doctor. Fact: Depending on your conditions, diagnoses, and the outcome of your appointment, you can absolutely get a prescription written – and even filled or refilled – through your online doctor. Many online medical services have affiliated pharmacies and can refer your prescription to have it filled and shipped conveniently to your home – all without any extra steps, travel, time, or hassle on your part.
The Benefits of Having an Online Doctor
Now that you know a bit more about how online doctor services work and facts have replaced myths in terms of what they offer, we can talk more completely about the benefits of having an online physician. Relying entirely on an online medical service is not a good idea; they cannot treat emergency conditions, for instance. But properly utilizing an online service as part of your overall health strategy can yield many benefits. They primarily stem from the differences between an online doctor service and a traditional, brick-and-mortar doctor’s visit. Briefly, these benefits include:
- Avoid exposing yourself to potentially sick people when you are healthy. Because an online doctor appointment is online, you can complete it alone, from the comfort of your home or office. You don’t need to be exposed to potentially dozens of sick people in a doctor’s office waiting room. This is especially important if you are healthy and just in need of medication or condition management.
- Get an appointment, treatment, and resolution faster with an online doctor as compared to a traditional in-person doctor’s visit. Most online medical services allow for appointment scheduling, as well as on-demand appointments. Scheduling often allows patients to see an online physician within 24 hours or the next business day. On-demand appointments, typically available during normal business hours, put the patient into a queue to see the next available online doctor as soon as possible – sometimes as quickly as a few minutes, and other times about an hour or so of wait time. Compare that to the weeks or months in advance you have to book to see your traditional doctor for a non-emergency condition.
- Spend less on your healthcare. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, a traditional doctor’s visit can run you hundreds. Even with insurance, before you meet your deductible, it can easily cost $50, $75, $100, or more. Online doctor services typically have flat-rate pricing per appointment, and it is usually substantially less than you would pay at a doctor’s office.
- Less time waiting, more time with the doctor. Traditional doctor visits can take hours and end up giving you only 5 to 10 minutes of face time with your actual doctor. An online visit gives you 100% face time for the duration of your appointment, without waiting alone for hours in a tiny room or being poked and prodded by a nurse.
- Get sick notes, prescriptions, and more. Online doctor services are all about convenience and customer service. They make it easy, fast, and affordable to get sick notes for an employer, prescriptions, and refills, and manage your medical conditions.
- It’s easier to talk to an online doctor about sensitive issues. Because of the remote aspect of telemedicine, many people find it easier to discuss topics such as erectile dysfunction, urinary tract infections, male pattern baldness, and similar – topics that might cause embarrassment at a traditional, in-person doctor’s visit. In this case, a little distance can be a good thing!
- Keep tabs on your health. Too often, people avoid going to the doctor because of the time and cost. This allows conditions to deteriorate and many people’s health to get worse. Keeping tabs on your health, with regular consultation with an online doctor, is one of the most cost-effective ways to ensure a high quality of life and optimize your health outcomes.
An Important Reminder
It’s always worth reiterating that an online doctor is no substitute for a visit to a clinic, doctor, or hospital to deal with an emergency or acute health concern. Online consultations are not meant to diagnose life-threatening conditions, nor can they treat them remotely. The use of an online medical service is simply one aspect of managing your health and should be properly integrated into your healthcare routine. Do not hesitate to seek in-person treatment for conditions that are not treated by an online doctor or for those conditions or symptoms that may be a sign of something serious and life-threatening.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does an online doctor have to be licensed?
Yes, online doctors must be licensed and certified by the state boards of medicine where they are based and practice. Typically, their credentials are available on the website of the online practice, either outright or upon request. The doctors themselves may have different areas of expertise or specialties, depending on the services offered, and the portfolio of doctors tends to vary from company to company.
Can an online doctor write prescriptions?
Absolutely! Online doctors are fully trained, licensed, and accredited medical professionals with the capability of writing prescriptions for patient treatment. Some of these services even have affiliated pharmacies; after the online consult, the doctor can transfer the prescription immediately, have it filled, and have it shipped right to your home.
Why doesn’t an online doctor treat everything a traditional doctor does?
The distance and remote aspect of an online doctor limits what they are able to treat. No doctor can ethically treat a condition or illness that they cannot diagnose, and physical exams, measurements, and tests are not possible with telemedicine. Some visual examination is possible, such as with skin conditions, via video conferencing. As more and more technology comes online, and more and more patients have remote devices to monitor their health at home, the more likely the portfolio of conditions an online physician can treat will continue to expand.
See an Online Doctor Today at Telegra MD!
Hopefully, we’ve helped you see the benefits of having an online doctor service as part of your healthcare plan. There are many clear advantages to treating certain conditions, obtaining certain services, and conveniently and affordably accessing routine medical care.
If you’re interested in trying out a reputable online doctor, check out Telegra MD. Telegra MD offers fast, affordable online doctor services throughout the United States. Online prescriptions, doctor’s notes, diagnoses, and treatment for a wide range of conditions are available.
For only $49, you can see an online doctor in as little as 10 minutes, or via a scheduled appointment at your convenience. All you need is your phone or computer, and a working Internet connection. Choose the communication method that makes the most sense for you, fill out some basic information, and you’re all set.