Twenty-five years ago we may have been one of the last families to experience a medical house call when Dr. Bobby stopped by the house to check on Emily on his way from the hospital to his office. I remember being stunned when our pediatrician offered to see Emily for a recheck at home so I wouldn’t have to drag a sick child to his office.
Now it appears there’s a new type of medical house call…Telemedicine. Since December, Doctor on Demand has been available in Florida as well as more than a dozen additional states providing medical services via a home computer, tablet, or even cell phone.
Voice or video calls to physicians enable patients to receive 15 minute consultations for a $40 fee. The Doctor on Demand app requires users to register for the service and then move through a four step process:
- Tell what’s wrong – typing in symptoms, allergies, and medications
- Confirm payment – entering credit card information
- Chat with a doctor – by video or voice (patient’s choice) and even share photos of a rash or insect bite; then get advice, a prescription, or a referral
- Provide feedback – rate the doctor and the service
Apparently, the military’s been using a version of telemedicine for over two years in which individuals anonymously discuss problems relating to depression, post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or substance abuse. Video Doctor attempts to reduce the stigma associated with accessing mental health assistance and provides screening and referral services. It looks like virtual medicine is a reality.
I’m not sure how I feel about a virtual doctor, however I did download the app on my phone. We’ve needed basic medical care while on vacation in the past and the $40 fee, although not covered by medical insurance, would have been welcome compared to an emergency room visit or an out-of-network medical care facility. And for those without insurance, it may be a good alternative to the $200 visit to a walk-in clinic.
What do you think? Will you be a Doctor on Demand patient or have you used a virtual medical service?