Sydney is a contributing health writer and editor who enjoys shedding light on health topics, making information available to anyone who wants it, and ending stigmas or lack of access to care and treatment.
Dr. Aaron Wiegmann
Dr. Wiegmann earned his medical degree (M.D.) from Rush Medical College and completed his General Surgery residency at Rush University Medical Center and Cook County Hospital. He has a Master's Degree (M.S.) in clinical research and has published numerous peer-reviewed articles.
March 17, 2021
An online doctor can do almost everything an in-person doctor can during a virtual doctor appointment. With the exception of examinations that require a physical meeting, online doctors can perform everything they were trained to do over the internet. Even blood and urine tests can be completed at home and mailed to an online doctor for analysis.
In the event that you wake up one morning with a painful sore throat, fever, unexplained ache, or you’re having issues after a procedure, a trip to the doctor’s office may not be needed. Historically, patients and doctors have always met face-to-face, but technology has made way for virtual doctor appointments that are just as effective and even more convenient than tradiction care.
According to HealthIT, telemedicine includes health care provided via “video conferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.” Because telemedicine is relatively new, it’s important to read up on how it works before going in (or, rather, online) for an appointment.
Read on to learn more about virtual doctor appointments, what to expect, getting online prescriptions, and how to book an appointment.
Virtual doctors are the same highly-trained and qualified professionals you’d find in your family clinic, urgent care, or hospital. They’re board-certified and act the same way a primary care doctor would, except online.
Patients are used to the age-old process of picking an appointment time, driving to a clinic, and waiting 30 minutes to an hour in a room full of sick people, only to spend 20 minutes with their doctor. For a long time, this was presumed to be the only way to see a qualified healthcare professional.
Now you can have a virtual doctor appointment via online chat, phone call, or video chat. When you talk to an online doctor, no matter the channel, your information will be locked with HIPAA-compliant encryption, ensuring confidentiality.
Any non emergency condition that your doctor would be able to treat in person that doesn’t require a physical exam, they’ll be able to treat online. It’s not uncommon for people to wonder if virtual doctors can actually treat the illness or condition they have. But a large number of medical conditions are diagnosed merely through consultation – and that’s precisely what an online doctor’s visit is.
Online doctors can also order labs and necessary tests to help with more complicated diagnoses. Additionally, they can refer you to specialist care when needed.
Some of the issues that virtual doctors most often see from virtual patients are:
You can also find mental health professionals online. There are plenty of doctors, psychiatrists, and therapists available for virtual appointments. Whether you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, or just need to let off some steam.
EverydayDr is proud to partner with PlushCare. A telehealth startup included on Forbes’ list of best startups in 2021. PlushCare provides patients with access to board-certified doctors and licensed therapists for same-day appointments.
Yes, during your virtual doctor appointment, the physician can write prescriptions for just about anything, from antibiotics to diuretics to antidepressants, and most everything in between. They’ll electronically send it to a pharmacy of your choosing, and you’ll pick up the medicine as you usually would in-person.
There are some exceptions to what a virtual doctor can prescribe. Virtual doctors of any kind, no matter their practice, cannot prescribe controlled substances online. This includes popular anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax and painkillers like Norco.
This restriction exists because of the risk of abuse of certain drugs, as well as the likelihood of overdosing or forming an addiction. A virtual doctor may prescribe all non-controlled substances for physical and mental health conditions.
A virtual doctor appointment is around $79, on average. The cost of the appointment will vary depending on the platform and whether or not you have insurance.
With our sister site EverydayDr virtual doctor appointments for insured patients cost your typical in-average copay. The average insured patient pays just $22. If you’re uninsured your appointment will be $99. This is much cheaper than the average cost of in-person urgent care which is well into the hundreds.
Virtual doctor appointments are incredibly similar to an appointment you’d have with an in person doctor.
The doctor will ask you questions about:
Be prepared to talk about your symptoms and have everything on hand that your doctor may ask about, such as a list of prescription medications you take and in what doses.
You and the doctor will work together to create a custom treatment plan that works for you, including any necessary medications. Online doctors can also refer you to specialists and order labs if necessary.
Not all telemedicine professionals will have access to your medical history and insurance information. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have any important papers with you during the visit, or sent to the online doctor ahead of time. With our partner PlushCare you can upload medical documents to their secure app before, during, or after your appointment.
Patients may also want to have a list of any medication they’re currently taking, the dosages, and know how long they’ve been taking it. This can help the doctor avoid prescribing anything with negative interactions to the current medications you’re on.
If the doctor needs anything else from you, they’ll be sure to let you know. They are, after all, a trained professional.
Virtual doctor appointments are incredibly convenient and helpful for hundreds of thousands of people. Make sure you’re using a reputable platform, and feel free to research your doctor beforehand. You can often find reviews and credentials online.
Telemedicine makes healthcare accessible to millions who were previously underserved. As long as you take your time and do your research, virtual doctor appointments are excellent.
With our partners at PlushCare, you can get personalized, high-quality virtual primary care and mental health treatment. PlushCare only employs highly-skilled doctors that are trained at the top 50 U.S. medical schools with an average of 15 years of experience.
Just book an appointment, chat via video on your smartphone or computer, and pick up your prescription from your pharmacy. PlushCare’s advanced technology is integrated with most major insurers, labs, and pharmacies.
Click here to book an appointment with a doctor.
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Book a virtual appointment with our award-winning telehealth partner PlushCare. PlushCare successfully treats 97% of conditions on the first visit.See a Doctor Now