Advances in technology are changing the way that medical practitioners help their patients. Of particular note is the trend of online doctor services. These virtual services make it easy for patients to consult with a doctor in minutes, without the stress of making a trip to a hospital or clinic. When you have the option of seeing a doctor right away, the chances of diagnosing a condition early is greater, giving you more options and time to treat symptoms and plan for  additional treatment.

However, knowing how to choose an online doctor service can be tricky. With many fraudsters online these days, it can be difficult to know how to find a high-quality and trustworthy online doctor service. Read on to discover steps to help you select the best service for you.

QUALITY OF DOCTORS

An excellent online doctor service should have a lineup of well-trained, certified, and experienced doctors. Check out their website to find out which online doctors are available and taking new patients. Usually, these doctors are the same doctors you meet in your local clinic, except that you don’t have to make the trip to see them. You can consult with them right from the comfort of your own home. You might even have the chance to choose your own doctor. Other times, you can choose a doctor of your own preference, such as a female or male doctor, for example.

RANGE OF SERVICES

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Another thing to look out for is the caliber and range of services that are offered. Of course, certain conditions, particularly emergency conditions, cannot be handled over the internet. However, an excellent online doctor service should cover a wide range of conditions, which could include:

  • Hand and foot issues: gout, foot infections.
  • Head pain, hearing problems, vision and eyesight: blepharitis, conjunctivitis, ear infections, ear problems, eye problems, hearing loss, headaches and migraines, swimmer’s ear, tinnitus.
  • Infectious diseases: chickenpox, cold, flu, glandular fever, shingles.
  • Mental health: anxiety, depression, insomnia.
  • Skin Issues: acne, allergic reactions, cellulitis, dry skin, eczema/dry skin, fungal skin infection, hives, herpes (cold sores), impetigo, intertrigo, itchy scalp, itchy skin, lumps, psoriasis.

Ideally, an online doctor service should also offer services such as specialist referrals, second opinion and diagnoses, online prescriptions, medical certificates, and ACC and injury care services.

PRICING

As always, price plays a crucial role in deciding on an online doctor service. The average cost for a virtual visit is $50. Compare that figure to $85 for low-severity treatment at an in-person doctor’s office, $130 for an urgent care facility visit, and $740 for an emergency room visit. In other words, a virtual doctor’s visit is a cost-effective option. Some virtual companies even offer free services for children under a certain age.

If you come across telemedicine services that are charging exorbitant rates, far from the average cost of virtual visits, you should avoid them. Also, make sure there are no hidden fees, such as treatment-specific charges, prescription charges, and weekend surcharges.

Doctor working with laptop computer

HONESTY

Virtual health companies should always be up front about what services they can provide, and which ones they cannot. Online consultations cannot solve every medical issue. Conditions such as sudden or severe shortness of breath, chest pain, loss of consciousness, broken bones, traumatic head injury, vomiting or coughing up blood, or severe burns require urgent attention. No online service should be handling emergencies. If there’s ever a critical situation, you need to call 911 immediately. Furthermore, a good online doctor service won’t make prescriptions for restricted or controlled drugs, including opiates, benzodiazepines, or sleeping pills.

SUPPORT SERVICES

When you are looking for a reputable online doctor service, ask what happens when their network goes offline? How are they prepared to handle any technical hitches that come up during the medical consultation? Whether it is through text or a phone call, an excellent virtual doctor service will provide a solution immediately, to ensure that the time you booked is not lost. They should offer to reschedule your appointment at no cost, if the consultation is interrupted.

GO FOR IT!

Once you find an online doctor service that checks all the boxes above, don’t hesitate. Go ahead and make inquiries and book your next appointment. If you need more information, check out the company’s FAQ page to make an informed decision. Finally, be sure to check out review sites to see what other patients are saying about their service.

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