The best telemedicine provider for you can vary based on your needs, price point, and level of urgency. Certain companies may be covered by some insurance plans. Some help you find the doctor who is best for you.
It can be difficult to make time to see a doctor at the best of times, and even more so if the ongoing pandemic creates additional concerns. Between busy schedules and limited appointment availability, staying healthy can lead to extra stress.
Telemedicine allows you to discuss non-emergency medical issues with a doctor by phone or online at a time that’s convenient for you.
Telemedicine offers access to licensed medical professionals for people who may not have access otherwise. It often provides lower costs for services.
It also can be a cost-effective way for people who do not have insurance, or whose insurance does not cover certain costs, to get care.
Though telemedicine can be beneficial for a number of reasons, it should not replace in-person doctor visits.
It’s important to keep in mind that telemedicine healthcare professionals do not have the ability to take your blood or urine samples, heart rate, blood pressure, or other important medical tests. For example, with the lack of physical touch in telemedicine, the results of a physical exam could be greatly hampered.
Telemedicine is great and very convenient for anyone with a busy job, hectic life, or otherwise jam-packed schedule.
Attending an appointment virtually, either at your home or office, can make all the difference. For some people, it can reduce — or even eliminate — the need to find and pay for child care, or take time off from work.
Plus, it’s a great option for people who may not otherwise have access to certain physicians or physician types, or who cannot afford, or prefer not to pay, the price of standard medical visits.
Additionally, people who are immunocompromised or who have underlying health conditions could be at greater risk when in a doctor’s office.
Telemedicine is also a very accessible way to see a physician for certain purposes, like refilling a prescription or sharing preliminary information, checking symptoms, or bringing up concerns about a health issue that does not require a physical examination.
This is especially true for people with disabilities or who have limitations getting around physically, or those who are geographically isolated or incarcerated.
That said, telemedicine is inaccessible to anyone without computer or smartphone access or a reliable internet connection. It’s also important to keep in mind that there can be safety concerns, both physical and otherwise, when you have the ability to be on the go. Driving while taking a telemedicine appointment is not recommended at all — both tasks require your full attention, and it would be better if you were in a safe space to take your appointment.
While telemedicine makes appointments easier and more mobile, be careful not to take your appointment in public places, as privacy could be an issue. Whether it’s privacy concerns regarding the internet, or how much you say in a public space, it’s safer for you to talk to your doctor in a secluded, secure space for you to discuss any concerns you have openly without an audience.
With so many telemedicine options to choose from, you might not know where to begin. By focusing on which companies specialize in or accommodate what you need, you can narrow down the right options for you.
For example, if you have a specific health condition or communication style preference, look into telemedicine companies that have experience with similar ailments or work the way you want.
You should also consider whether you’ll need lab work or prescriptions, and ensure the company or medical professional you’re considering can arrange for those.
Lastly, it’s important to consider your preferred payment method. Maybe you need a company that can provide documentation for your health insurance reimbursement, or maybe you prefer to pay by debit. Find out in advance if the company you choose can accommodate different payment options.
If you’re looking to save money on healthcare expenses, or you do not have health insurance, there are some low cost and free health services available.
For example, the Health and Human Services Health Resources Services Administration and Find a Health Center offer a directory of health clinics that operate on a sliding scale. If you do not have insurance or cannot pay, you can still get care.
Teladoc Health is the largest telemedicine provider, with $1.09 billion in revenue and over 1,800 employees.
Who are the leaders in telemedicine?
Aside from Teladoc Health, the key leaders in telemedicine are Amwell, MDLive, and Doctor on Demand.
Who is Teladoc’s biggest competitor?
MDLive is Teladoc’s biggest competitor, with $140.9 million in revenue.
What does telemedicine exclude?
Telemedicine healthcare professionals cannot take blood or urine samples, heart rate, blood pressure, or other important medical tests like a hands-on physical exam (which includes listening to the heart and lungs, examining the abdomen, and more). These services still must be done at a lab or through an in-person physician visit.
Telemedicine makes it easier than ever to get medical treatment and information. It can also be a more affordable alternative for people without insurance.
Last medically reviewed on May 17, 2023
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