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Top 15 Best Online Doctor and Medical Advice for 2020

The cost of healthcare has reached extreme levels, and the amount of uninsured and underinsured individuals continues to grow as the gap in affordable care widens. To compensate, a lot of people do without coverage and take their chances. When illness strikes and they need to see a doctor, many of them bite the bullet and make a trip to their local urgent care clinic or emergency room, choosing to pay out of pocket—and if they can’t—racking up substantial medical bills. The fact that medical debt is the number one cause of bankruptcy in the US keenly illustrates how flawed the system truly is.

According to Main Street Medica, if you suspect you have a sinus infection, the average cost for you to see a primary care physician hovers around $160. A visit with a practitioner at an urgent care clinic is about $220. If you opt for the emergency room, you will generally pay over $1000 to be seen. Fees for other non-life-threatening illnesses like bronchitis, strep throat, or allergies average about the same.

Online Medical Care—an Ideal Solution

Once reserved for patients in remote areas where there was a shortage of physicians, online medical care offers a potential solution to these astronomical costs. It has become an increasingly popular tool over the past decade, offering an alternative method for patients to be seen for non-emergency conditions.

Most people now own smartphones, laptops, or tablets, and they have become more comfortable with technologies like video chat and instant messaging. Many already seek medical advice online. Consumers have started using apps, devices, and technology to monitor and track their health, and virtual clinics are a natural lead-in to this trend.

As patients begin to take a more active role in their own wellness, they have come to expect technologies that support that goal. The convenience, accessibility, and lower cost of online health care is attracting millions of users and is expected to be worth 148.32 billion US dollars by 2025. Additionally, according to the American Telemedicine Association, 74% of US patients surveyed would use telehealth services.

There has never been a better time to take advantage of the lower costs of virtual health care platforms. Most patients report that the quality of care is equal to or even better than an in-person visit. Furthermore, a trip to an online clinic doesn’t require patients who already feel lousy to leave their beds.

The cost savings and comfort of staying home are not the only reasons people opt for the virtual clinic experience either. Most services offer appointments within minutes and can be utilized 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. In most cases, physicians practicing online can write prescriptions and order lab work and imaging. Additionally, records are readily accessible to patients and subject to the same privacy laws as any other medical facility.

Reviews

In reviewing the top 15 online doctors and medical advice for 2020, we found four primary categories of services.

1. Subscription-Based Online Health Services
Subscription-based platforms are modeled after a growing trend called direct primary care (DPC). With DCP, you visit an office much like a traditional primary care office for medical concerns, wellness checkups, and regular physicals. Staffed by board-certified online doctors, you receive the same (some would say better) level of care as you would at a PCP for one monthly fee. Typically, there is no limit on the amount of time you can spend with your provider, and you may visit them as many times as needed over the month.

The only difference between subscription-based DPC and its virtual counterpart is that some services are limited in scope to an in-person visit. For those who expect to speak with their doctor regularly and have ongoing non-emergency concerns, the subscription model is ideal. And unlike DPC, some subscription services also work with your existing insurance.

2. Pay-As-You-Go Online Health Services
The pay-as-you-go model of online services is one of the fastest-growing models in telemedicine. Also called “service-on-demand,” patients can sign up on the platform and be seen quickly by a physician online. The typical wait time is mere minutes, and most non-emergency conditions can be diagnosed.

The best online doctors will work with the patient to provide a brief treatment plan and order lab tests and prescriptions when appropriate. The patient still has to pay for labs and medications, but the appointments themselves range between $25 to $75 for a general health visit. They are brief and last between 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Online Mental Health Services
While many of the telemedicine platforms on our list offer behavioral and mental health services at an additional cost, there are a couple that offer it exclusively. These online mental health clinics are staffed by compassionate and trained counselors who are ready to help with issues like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, trauma, grief, marriage problems, and a host of other stress-related issues.

4. Free Virtual Doctors
When you absolutely cannot afford to take advantage of any of the other options on our list, our final review is one that offers a potential solution. Similar to Google, Reddit, or Just Answer, online medical advice sites provide patients a chance to consult with a doctor online for free. When

These types of free services can be particularly helpful for those who aren’t sure whether they need to make an appointment with a physician or who have a simple issue for which they would like more information.

Each of the online treatment services below is labeled by type so you can find exactly what you are seeking. If you would like to try out a virtual doctor, check out our comprehensive reviews of the 15 best online doctors and advice below.

1. Sherpaa

Subscription-Based
Sherpaa provides unlimited care plans for consumers based on monthly or annual membership fees. It resembles direct primary care except that it is entirely virtual. The company claims that over the past seven years, they have perfected a method of diagnosis that determines what can be diagnosed online vs. what warrants an in-person visit. In fact, they state that less than 50 out of the 1500 conditions they treat require a physical exam.

Sherpaa 15 Best Online Doctor and Medical Advice for 2020

The Doctors

The physicians at Sherpaa work exclusively for the company itself. In other words, this is not a moonlighting job for them. They have been chosen not only based on experience and education but on their beliefs about healthcare accessibility and personal qualities like compassion and kindness.

Diagnosis

If you have a medical concern, you will open an initial episode of care. Sherpa gets to work on a diagnosis by asking you a series of questions about your chief complaint. The questions are built on an algorithm they have developed based on several years of experience.

The doctors may ask you to send photographs or order lab or imaging tests to help them determine the correct diagnosis. Depending upon the complexity of your situation, they may refer you to a physician or health care facility.

Availability and Accessibility

Sherpaa is available for patients 24/7—365 days a year. The app supports messaging between the hours of 8 am and 8 pm Eastern time. After hours, the phone line is open for urgent issues. You will typically speak with a physician within 20 minutes. However, urgent cases may take less time, and non-urgent cases can take up to two hours.

The service is accessible via laptop, desktop, or tablet, or through both Android and iPhone apps. Communication takes place within the app and consists primarily of messaging. Phone calls, photos, and video chat may also be used.

Mental Health Care

Physicians at Sherpaa can help you with mental health issues like anxiety, stress, and depression by filling prescriptions or referring you to a mental health specialist.

Cost and Insurance

The membership cost is a $99 flat fee for 30 days of unlimited care or $270 for unlimited care for a year. Membership is not covered by insurance; however, prescriptions, lab tests, and imaging may be covered depending on your individual plan.

Pros:
•Membership offers convenience for people who don’t want to make appointments, drive to an office, sit in a waiting room, and take time out of their busy day for minor issues.

•Compared to a typical urgent care or ER visit, the cost is significantly lower.

•You will receive ongoing primary care from a team of doctors who can treat at least 1500 conditions.

•Waiting for a doctor to get back to you with any concerns you have takes mere minutes and once you are a subscriber you can talk to your doctor online for free whenever you want.

•Once you open an episode of care, your team of physicians will work with you until your case is resolved. There are no limits on the amount of time you take or the questions you ask.

•Sherpa physicians can order imaging and lab work and share the results with you right in the app. They can also send prescriptions electronically to the pharmacy of your choice.

•Sherpaa doctors are not hired straight out of residency. The most junior physician with the company has over nine years of experience beyond residency. The most senior physician has over 29 years.

•Because Sherpaa physicians work as a team, you have the advantage of several doctors looking at your case instead of just one.

Cons:
•Joining with Crossover Health has left the online user experience a bit disorganized.

•May not be worth the cost for patients who rarely visit a physician.

•Membership is not covered by insurance.

•Patients have to adjust to a team of doctors rather than working with one individual physician. The team is assigned, so there is no opportunity to choose your own doctor.

•If you have a problem in the evening and sign up for Sherpaa after 8 pm, you will have to wait until the next morning for your membership to be processed before speaking with a provider.

2. SteadyMD

Subscription-Based
SteadyMD is modeled after direct primary care and is one of the most comprehensive telemedicine platforms to date. Intended to replace traditional primary care, the online service provides patients with a regular physician who has a limited number of patients. This allows them to get to know you on a personal level as well as take more time during each appointment. The service is ideal for those who want to take charge of their health and who expect to use the platform regularly.

SteadyMD 15 Best Online Doctor and Medical Advice for 2020

The Doctors

The website states: “The SteadyMD doctors are board-certified physicians that have been selected because of their focus on building relationships and providing quality long-term care to their patients.”

Diagnosis

At your first appointment, you will have a one-hour online doctor consult to share your health history and current concerns. You will work together to come up with a plan to address those concerns, and your doctor will order any lab tests, imaging, or prescriptions that are needed. They will also begin the process of obtaining your past medical records.

Availability and Accessibility

After you sign up for the service, you will book your first appointment, which will typically take place within one or two days. After that, you will have unlimited same-day appointments for follow-ups or new concerns. You can text, phone the doctor, or have a video chat anytime. All you need to use the service is a computer and a smartphone.

Mental Health Care

Not available

Cost and Insurance

SteadyMD is a membership-based service. Patients pay a $99 per month fee for unlimited online visits with their online medical doctor. A family plan is also available, which covers you, your spouse, and children under 14. The cost is $169 per month. A functional medicine plan is available at $199 per month for those who want to dive deeper into their health history.

Insurance is not accepted. However, you are encouraged to keep your insurance plan if you already have one. Your insurance may cover lab work, imaging, or prescriptions ordered by your SteadyMD physician.

Pros:
•For patients without insurance, the direct primary care model is ideal. It offers personalized care for one monthly fee.

•No rushing during appointments. Your doctor is there to help you and make you feel comfortable.

•Your online doctor can order prescriptions, bloodwork, and imaging.

•An economical family plan is available.

•Unlimited appointments and easy access to your doctor

•Your physician can keep track of your health by integrating the data from your Fitbit, MyFitnessPal, or other health apps.

•A functional medicine plan covering your entire health history, genetics, metabolism, and in-depth testing is available.

Cons:
•For those who don’t anticipate too many online doctor visits, the membership cost may not be worth it.

•You may have to wait a day or two for your first appointment, which makes this a slower option for patients who want to be seen for an immediate concern.

•Membership requires a financial commitment of one year, so if you decide it’s not for you, you will still have to make the remainder of your monthly payments.

3. PlushCare

Pay-Per-Service
PlushCare is a telemedicine platform serving all 50 US states. Founded in 2014, the company has served over 100,000 patients and counting. There are no recurring membership fees with PlushCare. Instead, it is modeled as a virtual urgent care clinic where you pay-as-you-go. Appointments are set in advance, and you will meet with a physician via video chat.

PlushCare 15 Best Online Doctor and Medical Advice for 2020

The Doctors

All of the practitioners at PlushCare are chosen from the top 50 medical institutions in the country and are highly skilled.

Diagnosis

During your video-conference, a doctor will discuss your symptoms with you and provide a diagnosis and a treatment plan. If you need a prescription, they can call it into your local pharmacy. They will also order any lab work or imaging you might need.

Availability and Accessibility

You can book an appointment at any time day or night, and you will be scheduled to meet with a doctor during the next available appointment. Although not guaranteed, same-day appointments are sometimes available. Customer service is open 365 days a year from 5 am to 10 pm Pacific Standard Time.

Communication takes place during a video chat. You can opt to use the webcam on your computer or a video app on your mobile phone. In certain states, you can request a telephone consultation only.

Mental Health Care

Psychiatry appointments are available to patients in New York and California and are $229 per session.

Cost and Insurance

The cost per visit is $99 if a participating insurance company does not cover you. Veterans and active-duty military personnel are eligible for a fee discount of $49.
PlushCare works with several major insurance carriers. If you are covered, you will only be charged a copay, which will depend on your individual plan.

Pros:
•No monthly membership fees make this plan a win for those who visit the doctor infrequently.

•They offer discreet STD testing and HIV prevention medications.

•PlushCare doctors can prescribe up to a 90-day supply of medications.

•Over 60 board-certified physicians are available.

•Accredited by the Better Business Bureau.

•Choose your own physician.

•The platform works with several major insurance companies.

Cons:
•May be costly for patients who need frequent care. If you need a follow-up appointment, for example, you will need to schedule and pay for another session.

•Patients may have to wait for an appointment.

•Some consumers may find the video-chat of 10-15 minutes too rushed to answer their questions.

•There is no way to email your physician with concerns that come up. They would all need to be addressed during another separate appointment.

4. DoctorOnDemand

Pay-Per-Service
DoctorOnDemand offers 15-minute video appointments with board-certified physicians who can treat general medical issues. Patients can book fee-for-service appointments for urgent care needs, help with chronic conditions, preventative medicine, and mental health issues.

DoctorOnDemand 15 Best Online Doctor and Medical Advice for 2020

The Doctors

DoctorOnDemand hires only highly skilled board-certified physicians and licensed psychologists. Practitioners are employed both full and part-time and are trained in over 200 clinical protocols.

Diagnosis

You will meet with a doctor for a 15-minute video conference to discuss your concerns. He or she will provide you with a diagnosis as well as order any lab tests or prescriptions you might need. If you are inquiring about preventative care, your doctor will help you formulate a treatment plan.

Availability and Accessibility

You can book an appointment 24/7—365 days a year through the online portal. If you wish to be seen sooner, you can sign up for the “on-demand” list, which will put you in the queue to see the next available physician. Communication takes place via a 15-minute video chat. You can opt to use the webcam on your computer using the google browser or on your smartphone.

Mental Health Care

Licensed psychiatrists and psychologists are available for medication management and talk therapy.

Cost and Insurance

The cost per visit is $75 if a participating insurance company does not cover you. Behavioral therapy is $79, and an initial psychiatric consultation is $229.
DoctorOnDemand works with several major insurance carriers. If you are covered, you will only be charged a copay, which will depend on your individual plan.

Pros:
•The flat rate of $75 makes DoctorOnDemand a cost-effective alternative for those who only need an occasional diagnosis.

•They offer preventative medicine to help with smoking cessation, weight-loss, emotional health and wellness, and more.

•Doctors can order diagnostic testing and call in prescriptions to the pharmacy of your choice.

•You can join the service for free and check out your insurance coverage and pricing before scheduling any appointments.

•Over 400 employers partner with the platform.

Cons:
•Sessions are limited to 15 minutes. At the 13-minute mark, you will be asked if you would like to continue with another 15-minute session. Subsequent sessions are billed at the same price as the initial appointment. This may be off-putting and feel rushed for some people.

•Patients need to download an app for their smartphone or use the Google Chrome browser. These extra steps may prove complicated for people who are not tech-savvy.

•No integration occurs between your own PCP and DoctorOnDemand, so you will need to let your regular physician in on the results of your appointments and lab visits on your own.

•There is no way to email or message your physician with concerns that come up.

5. Teladoc

Pay-Per-Service
Teladoc is one of the largest and most well-known companies in the telemedicine space, boasting over 20 million members in the US. They employ over 3000 healthcare providers and are available around the clock by phone or video chat for general issues like colds, the flu, allergies, rashes, sprains, and more. Most patients use the service in conjunction with their existing providers and as part of their employee health plans. However, individuals with no coverage are encouraged to use the service for a flat fee per visit.

Teladoc 15 Best Online Doctor and Medical Advice for 2020

The Doctors

Doctors working for Teladoc are located across all 50 states, and you will be paired with one from your area who understands the local weather and various illnesses common to your area. Each physician is board-certified and licensed to practice medicine in the state you are calling from.

Diagnosis

At your appointment, you will talk to your physician either on the phone or through a video chat, where you will discuss your symptoms and concerns. Once you have been heard, your doctor will provide a diagnosis and recommend any lab work or follow-up appointments needed. He or she can also call in a prescription for you at the pharmacy of your choice.

Availability and Accessibility

You can book an appointment 24/7—365 days a year through the website or the app. You can choose to set an appointment for a specific time in the future or opt to be seen immediately. In most cases, if you need to speak to a doctor right away, your appointment will happen within minutes. You get to choose whether you would like a video conference or a phone call. There is no specific time limit for your appointment.

Mental Health Care

Licensed psychiatrists and therapists are available. Fees vary.

Cost and Insurance

Everyday care visits are capped at $49, but there are several options and plans available. Your employer or insurance company may cover part or all of the fees. The company provides a toll-free number to call for more specific pricing. Teladoc works with several major insurance companies and is usually part of a plan covered by your employer or individual insurance carrier.

Pros:
•The flat rate of $45 makes Teladoc one of the cheapest options on our list. This is particularly helpful for those with no insurance coverage who only need to speak with a doctor occasionally.

•No time limits for your appointment mean that you won’t be rushed.

•Doctors can order blood work and imaging and call in prescriptions to your pharmacy.

•With your permission, you can have the notes from your online visit sent to your primary care physician.

•Dermatology and sexual health consultations are also available.

Cons:
•The pricing structure is confusing and requires a phone call to receive a straight answer.

•The sheer size of the organization may be off-putting for those who prefer a personal touch.

•Follow-ups require a new appointment.

•You can’t choose your doctor, and it is unlikely you will get the same one twice.

6. Amwell

Pay-Per-Service
If you want to talk to a doctor right away, Amwell is an excellent choice. Once you sign up and choose an available doctor, you will enter a virtual waiting room where you will typically be “seen” within minutes. The service is not intended to replace your traditional primary care, but rather to supplement it.

Amwell 15 Best Online Doctor and Medical Advice for 2020

The Doctors

Amwell hires doctors who part of the Online Care Group, a national network of board-certified primary care physicians. On average, each has 15 years of experience. They are chosen through a rigorous selection process and are licensed to work in the patient’s state.

Diagnosis

Your appointment will be quick—the average time is about ten minutes. Your doctor will provide you with a diagnosis, and if you need a prescription, it can be electronically submitted to your preferred pharmacy. If your doctor feels you need lab work or diagnostic testing, he or she will refer you back to your primary physician. Amwell doctors do not order labs due to the complications of follow-up care.

Availability and Accessibility

After you sign up for the service, you will see a doctor within minutes via video chat. The service is available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Communication will take place through the Amwell app, which you can access on your smartphone or computer. You can also opt to talk to a doctor over the phone.

Mental Health Care

Licensed therapists are available for counseling sessions for a wide variety of mental health issues. The cost varies between $59-$99, and a typical session is 45 minutes. Board-certified psychiatrists are also available at the cost of $199 for an initial 15-minute appointment and $95 for follow-up appointments. Your existing insurance may cover some of the costs.

Cost and Insurance

The cost for an urgent care visit at Amwell is a flat fee of $69. Other services like mental health, cardiology, physical therapy, breastfeeding support, women’s health, dermatology, and others are available at varying price points.

Amwell works with several major insurance carriers. If you have insurance, you will enter your information when you create your account on the website. Depending upon your coverage, you may only have to pay a copay for some services.

Pros:
•The service is fast and direct, with the average wait time only three minutes. If you are out of work with the flu or a bad cold, you can speak to a doctor, get a prescription and a note for your employer all without ever leaving your bed.

•The platform is available year-round, 24/7.

•The $69 fee for an urgent care visit is extremely cost-effective compared to a brick and mortar facility or the emergency room.

•Many insurance plans are accepted.

Cons:
You will likely not develop an ongoing relationship with a provider who gets to know you.

Amwell physicians cannot order diagnostic testing.

Typical appointments last only ten minutes and may feel too rushed for some.

7. MDLIVE

Pay-Per-Service
MDLIVE is an on-demand service that is intended to supplement a patient’s existing health care plan. However, it is also a convenient and cost-effective way for uninsured individuals to get medical advice. The platform offers urgent and general medical care for over 50 non-emergency conditions, as well as dermatology and some mental health services.

MDLIVE 15 Best Online Doctor and Medical Advice for 2020

The Doctors

The doctors at MDLIVE are board-certified and have an average of 15 years of experience. They all go through specialized telehealth training and are credentialed through the NCQA and URAC. Additionally, they are also licensed to practice in the patient’s state.

Diagnosis

Your appointment will take approximately 15 minutes, and your doctor will provide you with a diagnosis or suggest you follow up with a specialist or your primary care physician. If you need a prescription, it can be electronically sent to your local pharmacy. MDLIVE doctors do not order labs or diagnostic tests.

Availability and Accessibility

Patients can access MDLIVE from their smartphones using the Android or iPhone app. They can also have a video conference using their computer as well as speak to a doctor via a toll-free phone call. The service is available 24/7, 365 days a year. The platform is also accessible to the hearing-impaired.

Mental Health Care

Appointments with board-certified psychiatrists typically can be scheduled within days and cost $259 for an initial visit and then $99 for follow-up appointments. Licensed therapists are available for talk therapy at only $99 per session. Your existing insurance may cover some of the costs.

Cost and Insurance

The cost of a general or urgent care visit at MDLIVE is $75. A dermatology appointment is only $69. They also partner with many employers and several major insurance carriers. If you have insurance, you will enter your information when you create your free membership on the website. In some cases, you may only have to pay a copay for certain services.

Pros:
•Signing up is quick, and once you have established your free membership, you will simply pay a flat rate each time you want an appointment.

•The platform is available 24/7, 365 days a year.

•Patients can choose from a network of available doctors in their area.

•Many insurance and health plans are accepted.

•It offers a fast and easy way to be seen by a doctor and get a prescription without having to leave the house.

•The typical wait time is only 15 minutes.

Cons:
•More expensive than some other on-demand telemedicine services.

•MDLIVE physicians cannot order diagnostic testing.

•Typical appointments last only 15 minutes and may feel too rushed for some.

8. LiveHealth Online

Pay-Per-Service
LiveHealthOnline is one of the more affordable telemedicine options on our list. Urgent care and general medical appointments for uninsured patients are just $49 and can be scheduled on-demand. The platform is available at all hours, and patients choose from a list of physicians. Behavioral health and allergy-care services are also available. Doctors can provide short-term prescription refills.

LiveHealth Online 15 Best Online Doctor and Medical Advice for 2020

The Doctors

The doctors at LiveHealth Online are board-certified. Patients have the option of choosing the physician they want to see based on availability, ratings, and experience.

Diagnosis

Your appointment will take approximately 10-15 minutes, and your doctor will provide you with a diagnosis and a treatment plan. If you need a prescription, it can be electronically sent to your preferred pharmacy.

Availability and Accessibility

Patients can access the service from their smartphones using the LiveHealth Online Android or iPhone app. They can also have a video conference using their computer or laptop. The service is available 24/7, 365 days a year. The platform is also accessible to the hearing-impaired. Spanish-speaking physicians are also available.

Mental Health Care

45-minute sessions with a licensed therapist or psychologist can typically be scheduled within one to three days and cost between $80-$95 per visit. An appointment with a psychiatrist for medication management may take longer—up to 14 days. An initial consultation is $175 and $75 for follow-up appointments.

Cost and Insurance

The cost of a general or urgent care visit at LiveHealth Online is just $49 for those without insurance. Allergy care appointments are also only $49. The platform accepts many major forms of insurance, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Anthem, and Amerigroup. You should check your health plan to see what is covered.

Pros:
•The $45 flat-rate fee is far more affordable than an in-office visit at an urgent care facility and is ideal for those who are underinsured or uninsured.

•There are no monthly membership fees, and signup is simple.

•The platform is available 24/7, 365 days a year.

•Patients can choose the doctor they want to see.

•Many insurance and health plans are accepted.

•Spanish speaking doctors are also available from 7 am to 11 pm every day.

•Patients can typically get an appointment within 10 minutes.

•Your data is stored securely on the platform in case you want to access it for future appointments.

Cons:
•A longer wait time to see a psychiatrist than some of the other services.

•To use the service from a smartphone, you must install the app. It will not work from your browser.

•Typical appointments last only 10-15 minutes, which may not feel long enough for some patients.

9. HealthTap

Pay-Per-Service
HealthTap recently moved from a monthly membership model to a fee-per-service model that makes it a desirable option for those without insurance. Additionally, they offer a network of over 100,000 physicians with an average wait time of one minute, making them the fastest provider in this review.

HealthTap 15 Best Online Doctor and Medical Advice for 2020

The Doctors

All of the physicians at HealthTap are board-certified in primary care and hold an active US medical license in good standing. They see patients of all ages.

Diagnosis

Your appointment is called a virtual consult and will take approximately 15 minutes or more. At the conclusion, your doctor will write a summary note that includes your diagnosis and treatment plan. If lab tests are needed, an order can be sent to a Quest Diagnostics lab near you. If deemed appropriate, your doctor may send a prescription electronically to your local pharmacy.

Availability and Accessibility

The service is available 24/7, 365 days a year. Your appointment can take place via video chat, phone call, or text chat, and the typical wait time is one minute.

Mental Health Care

Mental health care is not available at this time.

Cost and Insurance

The cost of a general or urgent care visit (also called a consult) at HealthTap is $49 for those without insurance. However, the platform does accept some forms of insurance. You should consult with the customer care department at your insurance company to see if any services are covered.

Pros:
•Signup is free, and there are no monthly membership fees as of November 30, 2019.

•The platform is available 24/7, 365 days a year.

•Your virtual consultation includes reminders about your treatment plan and referrals to specialists and other providers as needed.

•All of your consult notes and records are stored securely and electronically on the company server and can be accessed by you at any time.

•Access is free to HealthTap’s massive library of previously answered questions and provides more comprehensive answers than a google search.

Cons:
•Mental health services are not offered

•With so many physicians, it is impossible to develop any sort of patient/doctor relationship.

•The size of the organization may lead some to feel they are just a number.

10. MeMD

Pay-Per-Service
With MeMD, patients can have an appointment with a physician or therapist from the comfort of their own home at any time of the day or night. One of the things that stands out with this service is that patients can opt for a phone consultation if they would like. This can be beneficial for those who are not comfortable with technology.

MeMD 15 Best Online Doctor and Medical Advice for 2020

The Doctors

All of the physicians at MeMD are licensed, credentialed, and US board-certified in their specialties. They hold bachelor’s degrees as well as Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degrees.

Diagnosis

Your MeMD provider will ask questions about your symptoms and get to know you to assess your situation. The doctor will provide a diagnosis and treatment plan, which includes ordering any lab tests and prescriptions. If lab tests are ordered, it is the patient’s responsibility to pay for them as well as to report the results back to their MeMD physician for follow-up.

Availability and Accessibility

The service is available 24/7, 365 days a year. Your appointment can take place via a smartphone, computer, or phone call, and you can choose either an audio or a video exam.

Mental Health Care

Psychiatric appointments and follow-ups are available. You will need to submit a support ticket for details. Therapy sessions can be scheduled for $85 per session.

Cost and Insurance

The cost of a general or urgent care visit is $69. The platform is not covered by insurance; however, patients can use their FSA, HSA, and HRA accounts to pay.

Pros:
•Providers at MeMD can treat more than one medical issue in a single session. So, if you have a rash as well as a sinus infection, for example, you don’t need to make two separate appointments.

•Personal issues like hair loss, sexual issues, and erectile dysfunction can be addressed.

•You will have access to a patient dashboard where you can review your treatment plan and records whenever you want. This can also help you share any details of your visit with your regular primary care doctor.

Cons:
•The web service is not compatible with Safari.

•Insurance is not accepted.

•Costs for other services like psychiatry, women’s health, men’s health, and teen health are not disclosed on the website and require a support ticket to obtain a quote.

11. Lemonaid

Pay-Per-Service
Lemonaid is the lowest-cost option on our list, describing themselves as a national online doctor’s office. The service can be accessed anywhere in the US and offers same-day consultations with a nurse practitioner or doctor. They also can order same-day lab tests and prescription delivery.

Lemonaid 15 Best Online Doctor and Medical Advice for 2020

The Doctors

All of the physicians and nurse practitioners are trained in family medicine, primary care, or internal medicine and are employed full time with Lemonaid. You can read about the qualifications of each provider right on the Lemonaid website.

Diagnosis

With Lemonaid, you select the service you want first from a list of menu options and conditions. After you have paid for your consultation, you will answer some health questions. Within two hours, a doctor will review your case and provide a diagnosis. If more information is needed, the doctor may request a video chat with you. They may order lab tests or a prescription, which can be sent to your local pharmacy.

Availability and Accessibility

The service is available from 7 am to 6 pm PST Monday through Friday, 8 am to 12 pm PST Saturday and Sunday. Your appointment will take place via chat or live video conferencing.

Mental Health Care

Lemonaid offers consultations and recommendations for depression and anxiety treatment as well as monthly prescription medication plans.

Cost and Insurance

The cost of a general or urgent care visit is $25. The platform is not covered by insurance.

Pros:
•Lemonaid offers a super-cheap alternative to urgent care facilities or an emergency room visit.

•Issues like STD testing, birth control, mental health, erectile dysfunction, and other problems of a sensitive nature can be addressed discreetly and privately in the comfort of a patient’s own home.

•You are guaranteed a refund if Lemonaid cannot provide you with a prescription.

•If you get sick while traveling in the US, Lemonaid is a simple solution to getting you back to vacationing.

Cons:
•The user experience on the web site is a little confusing.

•Insurance is not accepted.

•Patients may have to wait up to two hours for a consult.

12. Virtuwell

Pay-Per-Service
Virtuwell is an online clinic staffed by board-certified nurse practitioners who can treat approximately 60 common conditions. Consults are performed for a flat fee, and if the nurse is unable to provide you with a treatment plan or needs to refer you to in-person care, you don’t have to pay.

Virtuwell 15 Best Online Doctor and Medical Advice for 2020

The Doctors

The providers at Virtuwell are not doctors; rather, they are US board-certified nurse practitioners who are certified to diagnose, treat, and prescribe medications. They hold both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in nursing.

Diagnosis

Starting from any online device, you will answer a few questions about yourself and your symptoms. A provider reviews your answers immediately and gets back to you with a diagnosis and a plan of care. If you need prescriptions, they can be called into your local pharmacy.

Availability and Accessibility

Patients can access the service from their smartphones, laptops, tablets, or desktops. The service is available around the clock 365 days a year. No appointment is necessary. You simply select “get started” to begin.

Mental Health Care

Mental health services are not available at this time through Virtuwell.

Cost

The cost of a general or urgent care visit at Virtuwell is a flat rate of $49 and includes follow-up. If the nurse cannot provide you with a diagnosis or treatment plan for your condition, you will not be charged.

Insurance

If you have insurance, Virtuwell will submit a claim for you. They will wait to hear back from your insurance company to see what is covered before billing you for your visit. The platform works with 19 separate insurance companies.

Pros:
•Follow-up care is included in your flat fee of $49. This is not typical for most telemedicine platforms.

•The satisfaction guarantee ensures that you aren’t wasting your time or money if the nurse is unable to treat you.

•The entire process takes about 30 minutes and can be completed in the comfort of your own home, while at work, or on vacation.

•Many insurance and health plans are accepted.

•Patients can get a consult almost immediately.

•Your electronic record is stored securely on the platform, and you can access it anytime to share with your primary care physician.

Cons:
•For patients who want to see a doctor, the nurse practitioner model may not be ideal.

•The treatment plan is delivered after your appointment via email. Some patients may be disappointed at the lack of speaking with the NP about their plan.

•If the provider has a question, they will call you. This may not be the best option for those who are in the middle of a workday or at a public place.

•A small percentage of patients have had complaints about the wait time being longer than 30 minutes.

13. BetterHelp

Online Mental Health
BetterHelp bills themselves as the world’s largest e-counseling platform. They offer a wide range of virtual mental health and behavioral services provided by over 3000 licensed practitioners. Patients pay a weekly fee to access their counselor through a variety of communication methods.

BetterHelp 15 Best Online Doctor and Medical Advice for 2020

The Providers

The providers at BetterHelp are licensed and credential therapists who are board-certified in the state they are practicing within. Each therapist goes through a rigorous four to five-week interviewing process, with only 15% of them ultimately being accepted onto the platform. They are required to provide copies of their licensure, references, and credentials as well as complete a case study conducted by a licensed clinician.

Diagnosis

BetterHelp’s counselors do not provide a diagnosis, much like an in-person therapist does not. Instead, they are there to listen and help you work through life’s challenges. They also do not write prescriptions. For that, you need a primary care physician or a psychiatrist, which the service does not provide.

Availability and Accessibility

After you sign up, you will be matched with a counselor—usually within 24 hours. Patients can access the service by messaging, chat, video, or phone call, choosing the method that makes them most comfortable. Messaging can be done 24/7, and you will receive a notification when your counselor has responded. Chat, video, and phone sessions require an appointment.

Mental Health Care Services Offered

Private and professional sessions with a licensed clinical social worker, psychologist, marriage and family therapist, or licensed counselor.

Cost and Insurance

With BetterHelp, you pay one weekly fee that covers all of your communication with your counselor. The price ranges from $40 to $70 per week and is billed monthly. You can cancel at any time. Services are typically not covered through insurance.

Pros:
•For those with anxiety disorders that make it hard to leave home, the BetterHelp model provides an ideal solution.

•Patients can access their therapist 24/7 through the online messaging system.

•The platform provides a private and discreet way to receive emotional support.

• BetterHelp will match you with a therapist based on your personal preferences, ideals, and objectives. However, if you find the professional you are matched with just doesn’t work for you, you can request a new counselor without an interruption in your treatment.

•You do not need to supply your identity if you wish to remain anonymous.

•Unlike traditional counseling, you have unlimited sessions with your therapist. If you are having a terrible week, you may want to see your counselor two or three times. Other weeks you might not want a session at all. The choice is always yours and always at your own convenience.

Cons:
•For patients who need ongoing prescription management, the service may not be ideal.

•Patients who are dealing with suicidal thoughts and feelings should consult with an in-person therapist instead.

•The service is generally not covered by insurance.

•Some patients may miss a face-to-face meeting, and the virtual model may feel too impersonal.

14. Talkspace

Online Mental Health
Utilized by over one million people, Talkspace is a virtual therapy platform with over 3000 licensed and certified therapists. Patients can sign up for one of several plans and begin therapy right away. The platform is also available for teens and couples counseling.

Talkspace 15 Best Online Doctor and Medical Advice for 2020

The Providers

Talkspace does not use interns or therapists who are still under supervision. Instead, all of their counselors are fully vetted, licensed, trained to work on a virtual platform, and each has at least 3000 hours of clinical experience. They are also licensed in the state in which they work.

Diagnosis

The providers on Talkspace do not provide a diagnosis or write prescriptions. Instead, they will listen to your concerns and can help you develop your own treatment plan by making suggestions.

Availability and Accessibility

After you sign up on your computer or smartphone, you will meet with a representative immediately to help you choose a plan that best fits your budget. You will also select your preferred method of communication—texting, phone calls, or live video sessions. You will then be matched with a counselor chosen by using the IBM Watson system, a computer program that used predictive programming to match you with someone who meshes with your needs and personality. The Talkspace app is available on IOS or Android and is exceptionally user-friendly.

Mental Health Care Services Offered

At Talkspace, you can receive counseling for nearly any mental health issue, including addiction, anxiety, grief, eating disorders, depression, parenting, couples’ therapy, insomnia, stress, trauma, and more.

Cost and Insurance

Talkspace uses a monthly subscription plan model, with plans ranging from $65 to $99 per week, depending on the number of sessions and the amount of support you need. Couples therapy is available for $99 a week or $89 a week if paid quarterly. Most plans are billed monthly. You can cancel at any time. While the cost is usually not covered by insurance, it may be covered through specific employee assistance programs. You can contact your benefits department to find out.

Pros:
•Depending on the plan you choose, Talkspace could end up being quite a bit cheaper than traditional therapy. Especially if you are looking for multiple sessions per week.

•Patients can access their therapist 24/7 through the online messaging system.

•The platform provides a private way to receive emotional support. You can use a nickname if you do not want to provide your real identity.

•All providers work at least five days a week and have guaranteed response times so you won’t be left hanging.

•You won’t have to take time off from work or even leave the house. Scheduling is done at your convenience.

•Talkspace couples therapy provides an ideal solution for those in a long-term relationship.

Cons:
•Patients who need medication management will need to see a primary care provider or psychiatrist separate from the Talkspace platform.

•The service is not suitable for those with severe mental illness or who are dealing with suicidal ideation.

•The lack of visual clues when messaging your therapist may leave gaps in crucial information, much as texting can get confusing between two people.

15. First Opinion

Free Medical Advice
First Opinion is a free messaging service that offers patients the chance to ask a doctor for free about any medical condition. Available 24/7 year-round, the service can help you determine if you need to see a doctor for your condition or provide some peace of mind after office hours.

First Opinion 15 Best Online Doctor and Medical Advice for 2020

The Doctors

The doctors at First Opinion are board-certified and trained to practice telemedicine.

Diagnosis

Doctors at First Opinion do not provide a diagnosis or a treatment plan. Instead, they can answer basic medical questions and offer advice on how you should proceed to obtain a proper diagnosis.

Availability and Accessibility

Patients can access the service from their laptops, tablets, or smartphones via an IOS app or through a browser on an Android phone. Communication is done through real-time chat.

Mental Health Care

Mental health services are not available.

Cost and Insurance

There is no fee for using First Opinion.

Pros:
•The main advantage of First Opinion is that it is a free service. For those without insurance, it offers a starting point to get their questions answered with no initial outlay of funds.

•The service is ideal for nights, weekends, holidays, and times when your regular primary care physician is unavailable.

•First Opinion can be accessed nearly anywhere you have an internet connection.

Cons:
•Doctors at First Opinion do not provide a diagnosis, create treatment plans, or fill prescriptions.

Related:

 

By BCR Staff

December 2019