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These telemedicine apps may help you better access doctors, psychiatrists, or psychologists.

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You need to see a doctor but can’t find the time to make it happen — or maybe you’re in a location that makes it difficult. Sound familiar? Depending on the issue, telemedicine may be the answer or at least a temporary solution for nonemergency concerns.

With telemedicine apps, you can receive remote healthcare services from a doctor — without stepping foot in their office. We searched for the best telemedicine apps ranked high in user ratings, quality, and overall reliability, and here are our top picks.

Telemedicine is a way to access healthcare appointments with doctors, psychiatrists, or nurses on the internet using your phone or computer. These appointments are usually video calls through an app or platform, although some services also provide:

  • online chat messaging
  • email support
  • telephone calls

The idea of telemedicine isn’t to replace clinic visits with a doctor. Instead, they should complement regular healthcare. People may use telemedicine to:

  • talk with a doctor and see if you need a physical appointment
  • request or renew certain prescriptions for medications
  • assess and treat minor health conditions
  • access therapy and other mental health services

Additionally, many telemedicine apps are making strides to become primary care providers for folks rather than just acute visits.

Telemedicine is growing in popularity and can provide benefits over traditional doctor visits.

People who work full time may have busy lifestyles and may appreciate being able to schedule telemedicine appointments with doctors outside of traditional business hours, including evenings and weekends. It may be more convenient for people with children who would otherwise need to find sitters.

Telemedicine also improves access to care for people in isolated areas, older individuals, and individuals living with disabilities. Additionally, it can be helpful for people who frequently travel and those who may forget their medication.

There’s also no need for travel, which can save time, money, stress, and frustration. Plus, if someone’s ill, using public transport isn’t ideal, and it could transmit infections. Looking for and attending a telemedicine appointment from the comfort of home is a far more tempting prospect.

Additionally, telemedicine may be more economical than a clinic visit depending on your health insurance.

Telemedicine isn’t the ideal fit for everyone or every situation, and it has some disadvantages, including:

  • Insurance coverage. Your insurance may not cover telemedicine appointments. It’s only a requirement for insurers to cover or reimburse telemedicine costs in 26 states. That said, laws change continually, and more states may require insurers to limit cost-sharing in the future.
  • Internet access. You’ll need reliable internet and access to a computer or smartphone for your appointment. People living in areas with poor internet coverage may find telemedicine challenging.
  • Data protection. If you access telemedicine through an unencrypted channel or on a public network, there’s a risk of hackers or others accessing your information unlawfully. Additionally, your data could become corrupt, compromised, or lost.
  • Emergency care. Telemedicine isn’t suitable for emergency care or more serious mental health or physical conditions requiring a healthcare professional’s in-person assessment.
  • Certain prescriptions can’t be filled. Some apps can’t prescribe or refill controlled substances or certain anxiety medications.

We chose the best telemedicine apps for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Customer reviews and ratings
  • Price
  • Accessibility
  • Ease of use
  • Whether or not they accept insurance (and how they can help people who are uninsured)

A note on price

All of the apps we included in our roundup are free, meaning that you don’t have to pay to download them. However, each app still charges its own fees for consultations, appointments, and other services (though some accept insurance and prices may vary based on the policy).

Best overall

MDLIVE

iPhone rating: 4.7 stars

Android rating: 4.6 stars

Insurance: MDLIVE accepts insurance. Depending on your policy, urgent care appointments are under $82, dermatology appointments are under $95, and psychiatry appointments are $284 or less.

MDLive allows you to connect to medical and pediatric doctors and access behavioral health therapy services and psychiatry whenever you need them. MDLIVE is designed to offer fast, easy, and convenient access to a doctor for nonemergency issues when your primary care physician isn’t available.

MDLIVE doctors are both state licensed and board certified. All doctors require a state license to legally practice medicine in that state. However, board certification is an additional qualification that shows a doctor has gone above and beyond the required level of training and certification.

You’ll need to set up your secure account first, which takes around 15 minutes. You can then schedule an appointment at a time that works for you, or in some cases, you can see a doctor right away.

Best for prescription delivery

Lemonaid: Same Day Online Care

iPhone rating: 4.9 stars

Android rating: 4.2 stars

Insurance: The Lemonaid mail-order pharmacy service does not take insurance. However, if you’d prefer to use your insurance coverage, you’ll need to confirm with your insurance provider and ask Lemonaid to send your meds to a local pharmacy.

Lemonaid app offers a simple way to get a diagnosis and receive treatment. You pay a $25 doctor consultation fee and have access to free, fast delivery from the Lemonaid Pharmacy.

Just select a service and answer basic health questions. Once you pay your fee, you’ll get a doctor’s review within 24 hours, or in some states, you may also need a brief video consultation. You can have your prescription sent to a local pharmacy or delivered directly to your door.

Lemonaid doctors can prescribe medications for birth control, depression and anxiety, urinary tract infections, high blood pressure, and many more.

However, they state that because the services are online, they need to be more cautious and only write prescriptions when safe and appropriate, and they don’t prescribe controlled substances. If your doctor thinks you should see a healthcare professional in person, they’ll refund your consultation fee.

Best for budget

LiveHealth Online Mobile

iPhone rating: 4.9 stars

Android rating: 4.5 stars

Insurance: LiveHealth accepts health insurance. If you don’t have a plan, visits cost $59 or $175 for an initial psychiatry appointment and $75 for follow-ups.

LiveHealth brings qualified doctors to you whenever you need them. Just sign up, log in, and choose the right doctor for your needs. You don’t need to make an appointment. LiveHealth has doctors available 24/7, and they state that you can connect with a doctor through private and secure video in 10 minutes or less.

Doctors on the app can provide care for everything from the flu and bronchitis to allergies, skin infections, and much more. The app also features licensed therapists, lactation consultants, registered dietitians, and other healthcare professionals.

Best for all-around medical care

PlushCare: Video Doctor Visits

iPhone rating: 4.9 stars

Android rating: 4.8 stars

Health Care, and Cigna plan PPO plans. If you don’t have insurance, appointments are $119 plus $14.99 a month or $99 for an annual membership. If you don’t want to become a member, future visits are $59.

With PlushCare, you can get prescriptions and treatment for a variety of ongoing and nonemergency conditions. Choose an appointment time, add any insurance information, and get connected to a doctor or therapist — simply and efficiently.

PlushCare can fill many routine non-controlled prescriptions, including antibiotics, birth control, blood pressure meds, and some mental health meds. However, they cannot prescribe or refill controlled substances, such as morphine, Adderall, or Xanax.

Best for ease of use

Doctor on Demand

iPhone rating: 4.9 stars

Android rating: 3.7 stars

Insurance: Doctor On Demand works with many health insurers, and your costs vary by plan. Without insurance, you’ll pay:

  • $75 for a medical consultation
  • $129 for a 25-minute mental health (psychology) consultation
  • $179 for a 50-minute mental health (psychology) consultation
  • $299 for an initial psychiatry consultation
  • $129 for follow-up psychiatry appointments

Get face-to-face appointments with a doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist whether you have insurance or not. The app’s medical and mental health professionals are licensed physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists, and they can treat hundreds of issues online through video. Your doctor will discuss your history and symptoms, perform an exam, and recommend treatment.

Best for on-demand care

Amwell: Doctor Visits 24/7

iPhone rating: 4.9 stars

Android rating: 3.7 stars

Insurance: Amwell works with many insurance providers. Before insurance, Amwell services vary between $79 or less for urgent care and up to $279 for an online psychiatry visit.

Amwell offers quality medical care on demand for conditions like flu, headaches, strep throat, and cold sores. They also provide breastfeeding support, nutrition counseling, psychiatry services, and therapy.

Once you’ve enrolled, doctors are available around the clock. You can schedule a convenient appointment or see a doctor right away, often within minutes.

Best for therapy

Talkspace Therapy & Counseling

iPhone rating: 4.7 stars

Android rating: 2.5 stars

Insurance: According to Talkspace, 40 million people are covered for their services through insurance, but you should check with your insurance provider to confirm whether you’re covered.

Talkspace is a convenient, affordable, and effective way to work toward improving your mental health.

This subscription service lets you send unlimited text, audio, picture, or video messages at any time to your therapist. You’ll hear back at least once per day, 5 days a week, but you may have to wait for replies if you send messages at night. So although you can communicate 24/7, you may not always receive replies 24/7. You can also choose to add either one or four live video sessions per month with their Premium and Ultimate plans.

Plans cost between $260 and $396 per month, and there are no contracts. You can add psychiatry services for $199 for the initial evaluation and $125 for follow-ups.

Best for specialists

Teladoc

iPhone rating: 4.8 stars

Android rating: 4.4 stars

Insurance:Teladoc accepts insurance. Your appointment cost depends on your coverage, and you can check after you create an account. Without insurance, medical visits are $75, therapy visits are $0–$99. First-time psychiatry visits are $299, and follow-ups are $119.

Teladoc lets you virtually talk with a variety of medical specialists using your existing healthcare plan, no matter what kind of medical issue or specialization you need to help treat your health concern or condition. Just request a specialist and talk with your doctor over video or audio chat. They can provide expert medical advice, and if needed, write prescriptions.

Best for Blue Cross members

BCBSM Online Visits

iPhone rating: 4.9 stars

Android rating: 4.6 stars

insurance: This app is exclusively for people with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan healthcare coverage. Your costs depend on your plan.

This free app helps you see your doctor virtually for Michigan members of the Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) health plan. It allows you to manage your most essential health needs when you can’t get to the doctor’s office. See a doctor for both physical and mental health services, and request care for your child, too.

Best for working with your regular doctor

Spruce Care Messenger

iPhone rating: 4.8 stars

Android rating: 4.8 stars

Insurance: The costs depend on your doctor’s fees and your insurance.

Spruce is a communication platform between doctors and patients and doesn’t provide standard telemedicine services. Instead, it’s an app that gives healthcare professionals and patients a dashboard for keeping on top of medical needs even if they can’t get to the doctor’s office. Typically, your doctor or clinic invites you to join the platform.

Spruce protects your private medical information through HIPAA laws with secure video, audio, and text messaging tools, and offers you the convenience of filling out essential health questionnaires or sending prewritten message templates to help address a variety of medical needs without leaving your home.

Frequently asked questions

Can online doctors prescribe medication?

Yes, online doctors can prescribe some medications, which usually include antibiotics, antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, acne treatments, and more. However, usually, your online doctor cannot prescribe controlled substances, which are drugs like Adderall, narcotics, and certain psychiatric medications.

Many telemedicine medical professionals offer refunds if they feel they cannot help you with the care you need during an online visit. You are then free to see a doctor in person who can prescribe the most suitable medication.

What happens if I need a blood or other laboratory test?

Telemedicine platforms can usually forward orders for blood and laboratory tests, imaging, or anything else you need to diagnose and treat your medical condition.

As a precaution, you should check how your insurance works with billing for these services, as you may need to use approved healthcare professionals and approved telemedicine platforms.

Are telemedicine doctors qualified?

Yes. Legally to practice medicine in the United States, doctors must have attended medical school and be licensed by the state licensing board where they’re practicing. Doctors must be licensed in the same state where the patient is physically located at the time of the visit. Licensing means you’re assured of high levels of patient care from well-trained and qualified doctors.

Takeaway

There are some pros and cons to consider with telemedicine. It’s a good option if you’re looking for convenient, cost-effective, medical attention from the comfort of your own home.

Many people also attend online therapy which can good alternative to office appointments, depending on your needs.

However, telemedicine cannot replace standard, hands-on care from a doctor, and it is not suitable for emergencies. Instead, think of telemedicine as a complement to your regular healthcare.


Zia Sherrell is a health copywriter and digital health journalist with over a decade of experience covering diverse topics from public health to medical cannabis, nutrition, and biomedical science. Her mission is to empower and educate people by bringing health matters to life with engaging, evidence-based writing.