MeMD was recently featured as a Consumer Reports' "Smart Shop"
By Sandra Gordon
It’s the weekend or the middle of the night. You’re not feeling well, and your doctor’s office is closed. Or maybe you've come down with something while traveling and you’re not sure if it’s serious.
You could head to the nearest urgent care center or the closest hospital emergency room. But there’s a more convenient option: virtual doctor visits from your computer, smartphone, or tablet.
What you need to know about virtual doctor visits
First things first: These web-based services can treat some—but not all—health concerns. For life-threatening situations you’ll want to put down the phone and head straight to the ER or call 911 instead.
“E-visits are appropriate for urgent care matters, such as sore throat, earache, urinary tract infections, abrasions, diarrhea, fever, cough, sinus infections, body aches, bites, and stings,” says John Shufeldt, M.D., an emergency medicine physician in Phoenix and founder of the MeMD app and website.
Other things to know: Depending on where you live, your access to these services could be limited. Physicians and other medical professionals must be licensed in the state where they are practicing medicine, and some states restrict the services that can be provided (such as writing prescriptions).
Because these services use video for consultations, you’ll need a high-speed Internet connection and a webcam (or the camera on your smart phone). And, unlike your regular doctor (who probably accepts cash or checks) these online services only accept credit cards for payment.
It’s also a good idea to check each site’s FAQ section before you try the service to look for other potential gotchas, such as whether or not they accept insurance. But even then, if you’re paying out of pocket, the price for a virtual visit is still less than a typical doctor’s office visit, which averages $80 to $90.
Virtual doctor visits: 3 online options
Here are three apps to check out that literally put your health in your hands. Each is HIPAA compliant.
What it is: MeMD offers appointments with board-certified physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants 24/7 (consulting hours are limited to 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in a handful of states). The MeMD network includes 62 physicians who work full-time and 200 part-timers, according to the company.
Advertised wait time: Less than 10 minutes
Appointments: After logging in, you'll be prompted to enter your symptoms. A consultant then calls you to connect you with a health care provider.
Prescriptions: MeMD physicians can write prescriptions for purchase and pick up at your local pharmacy. One caveat: They don’t write scripts for some medications, including controlled substances.
Bummer: MeMD does not accept insurance.
Read in Full: Can’t wait to see the doc? These apps can help!