Remote communication is a safe and convenient way to stay connected with friends, family, colleagues, and even healthcare professionals.
Relying on screens for every interaction can be draining, but this shouldn’t prevent you from maintaining your social life, work life, routine health checkups, and mental health visits.
Nowadays, prioritizing mental health is more important than ever. Seeking therapy through online resources is a safe way to access mental health resources.
Amwell (short for American Well) is an online telehealth platform that connects people with healthcare professionals, including therapists who offer a variety of mental health services.
Keep reading to learn how it works and whether Amwell is right for you.
Amwell offers telemedicine services for healthcare professionals and their patients. It makes healthcare services more accessible by allowing patients to connect with their healthcare professionals through live video visits.
Like other online healthcare platforms, Amwell offers online doctor visits, making it possible to see a doctor or another healthcare professional face-to-face without having to leave your home.
Compared with other services like Talkspace that specialize in online mental health treatment, Amwell offers a broad range of health services, from urgent care needs to mental health therapy.
- Enrollment is simple.
- You can choose your healthcare professional.
- Schedule visits 24/7 based on your availability.
- Seek treatment for a variety of health concerns, including mental health services.
- Speak with healthcare professionals from your smartphone.
- High quality, secure streaming makes face-to-face interactions seamless.
- Using the Amwell platform is fast, easy, and convenient.
- Costs are typically lower than in-office visits.
- Healthcare professionals can send prescriptions to nearby pharmacies.
- Treatment is only covered by a select number of employers and health insurance plans.
- If you don’t have insurance, you’ll have to pay out of pocket.
- Telehealth services can be draining when coupled with other forms of remote communication.
- Some users may experience technical difficulties, especially if they have a weaker internet connection.
- Certain services, such as getting a second opinion, aren’t covered by health insurance.
Signing up for and using Amwell is all done from your smartphone, computer, or any device with a web-based connection. Its purpose is to make it faster and easier to see and speak with a doctor, therapist, or another healthcare professional.
Enrolling in Amwell requires making an account using the web-based or smartphone app.
When you sign up, you’ll be asked to select your health insurance provider if you have one. If your health insurance provider isn’t listed or you don’t have one, you will be directed to payment options.
The final step of Amwell enrollment is creating a profile containing your personal information. Once you have added your insurance coverage, payment options, and personal details, you’re ready to search for a healthcare professional and schedule your first visit.
Some employers and health insurance providers cover Amwell visits, or a portion of them, as a benefit included in their coverage.
If your provider doesn’t cover Amwell visits or you do not have health insurance, you can still use Amwell services by paying for them out of pocket.
Some services aren’t covered by insurance at all, or coverage may be partial. Prescriptions may incur out-of-pocket costs. Amwell doesn’t fill prescriptions but sends them to a nearby pharmacy of your choice.
Review and rate doctors
After you have enrolled, Amwell will show you a list of board certified doctors who are available. You can see their experience and ratings before scheduling a meeting with them.
The list of healthcare professionals also includes licensed therapists, psychologists, and counselors who are on call for mental health care.
Like an in-person doctor visit or therapy session, Amwell visits are scheduled in advance. Visits are available 24/7, though availability varies per healthcare professional.
Amwell uses secure, high quality streaming for its visits, so you can see and hear your doctor in real time from your smartphone or computer.
A typical doctor visit for medical issues is about 10 minutes. Online therapy sessions take approximately 45 minutes. Depending on your needs, appointments may be shorter or longer than average.
Prescriptions can be part of some treatments offered by Amwell services. Healthcare professionals can make prescriptions or recommendations for over-the-counter medications during or after a visit.
If your healthcare professional recommends a prescription medication, it will be sent to the pharmacy of your choice.
This may incur additional costs depending on whether prescriptions are covered by your health insurance plan.
Online telehealth services are a convenient option for people who prefer flexible scheduling and remote access. They’re also a safe way to seek treatment for nonemergency needs from the comfort of your own home.
In addition to connecting you with healthcare professionals who can treat common conditions like acne and the flu, Amwell also offers special services like urgent care, women’s health, nutrition, pediatrics, psychiatry, and more.
Amwell’s online therapy options may be beneficial for people with mental health conditions. Therapists on Amwell can provide mental health counseling for anxiety, depression, stress management, insomnia, and more.
According to user surveys, Amwell users seem pretty happy with the company’s services.
While the research on online therapy is limited, available studies do suggest it provides benefits for users.
A small 2016 study found that people with major depressive disorder who experienced a blended therapy protocol of both face-to-face and online sessions reported improvements in depression, health-related quality of life, and anxiety.
A 2019 review of 35 studies found that telehealth consultations improve clinical outcomes in psychiatry as well as wound care and managing certain chronic conditions.
Telehealth visits may also increase patient satisfaction and reduce costs.
Sharing personal private information over the internet can be nerve-racking. Amwell reassures its users that any sensitive information shared during virtual doctor visits and online therapy sessions is secure and confidential.
Amwell complies with all applicable laws as required by United Healthcare. It also protects patient rights and complies with all rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
Amwell services are covered by some insurance providers. Signing up is free and allows you to see whether Amwell visits are covered by your health insurance plan.
Amwell’s pricing depends on your insurance coverage. If you have a health insurance plan that includes Amwell, the price will vary based on your copay and services used. If your plan doesn’t include Amwell or you don’t have insurance, the cost will vary depending on the service or specialty you need.
Urgent care and medical visits start at $79. Therapy visits start at $99.
Some services, including getting a second opinion, aren’t covered by insurance at all and start at $800.
The popularity of telehealth visits has created a surge in companies that provide similar services. Other popular options include Lemonaid, LiveHealth, and Doctor On Demand.
Just like Amwell, all are free to sign up, all provide 24/7 availability, and most importantly, all are convenient thanks to their at-home services.
The biggest difference between these services is cost and customer satisfaction, just like any regular doctor’s office or clinic.
For those looking for basic, no-nonsense medical care, this telehealth service provides simple accessibility to health professionals through video call, phone call, or a mobile app.
There’s a $25 consultation fee that covers the initial evaluation by a healthcare professional and a prescription if needed. The cost of the medication would be billed separately. This fee isn’t covered by insurance but can be cheaper than insurance copays. However, if you do not qualify for Lemonaid’s healthcare services, the fee is waived.
This pricing model differs from Amwell’s upfront costs, but the range of costs is roughly the same.
LiveHealth provides a variety of healthcare professionals, from licensed therapists and lactation consultants to registered dietitians, to give quality healthcare. They can help with anything from the flu and bronchitis to allergies, skin infections, and more.
In terms of pricing, costs range depending on what you’re looking for:
- Allergy and medical appointments cost about $59 depending on your health insurance plan.
- Psychology appointments cost $95.
- Therapy appointments cost $80.
- Initial psychiatry appointments cost $175 with follow-up visits priced at $75.
With all this being said, LiveHealth does take certain insurance plans, so that can help cover certain costs.
Between the ratings, services provides, and cost, it appears that LiveHealth and Amwell offer similar experiences.
Doctor On Demand
This is one of the highest-rated telehealth apps, with 4.9 stars for both iPhone and Android users.
People can see licensed physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists who can go through your health history, symptoms, and examine you to help determine the best treatment.
Similar to Amwell, it’s free to sign up, but visits cost a range of prices, from $75 for a 15-minute consultation to $299 for an initial 45-minute psychiatry appointment.
This pricing is similar to Amwell’s, though the ratings on average are much higher.
Are telehealth visits better than in-person visits?
There are a lot of benefits to telehealth visits, such as convenience and comfort. And, with the continuing state of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth is a safer option to minimize contact with other people. Not to mention, the quality of care can be the same as in-office visits.
However, there are also a handful of downsides to telehealth visits. The most common is that not everything can be handled over video or chat.
While you can talk with your healthcare professional about health concerns or prescriptions, they cannot physically examine you using tests and examinations. Without this direct contact, it may also be difficult to form a connection with a healthcare professional.
Additionally, not everyone has access to the technology that’s needed to have a telehealth visit, so it may not be as accessible to everyone.
In the end, you and your healthcare professional have to decide what’s best for you, your lifestyle, and your healthcare needs.
What conditions does Amwell treat?
Amwell patients can see therapists, psychiatrists, dietitians, and general practitioners for a variety of concerns and conditions, ranging from anxiety and depression to UTIs and pink eye.
Amwell can also be a great place for patients to refill prescriptions after speaking with healthcare professionals about their condition and medical history.
If you’re looking for a second opinion on diagnosis, treatment plans, or both, Amwell can also be a great resource for this since there are thousands of specialists within its network.
With this being said, there are a lot of things that Amwell is not suited for. This includes regular doctors’ visits. Amwell is more about providing support between in-office visits than serving as a replacement for yearly physicals or annual appointments.
Amwell is also not suited for certain chronic conditions, like cancer, and emergency situations.
If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room:
- chest pain
- neurological symptoms, suggesting a stroke
- difficulty breathing
- dizziness or loss of consciousness
- sudden bleeding
- choking or gagging
- severe high blood pressure
- severe hemorrhoids
- head injury
- possible broken bones
- thoughts of self-harm or suicide
- thoughts of violence against others
- hallucinations or delusions
Online doctor visits and therapy sessions may not be everyone’s first choice when it comes to seeking help, but telehealth is a convenient, effective, and affordable option for many people.
More research is needed to establish online therapy as an effective treatment protocol for mental health conditions, but the existing research is promising.
Lacey Bourassa is a health, wellness, and beauty writer based in Southern California. She holds a BA in English. Her work has appeared in digital publications like Livestrong, Verywell, Business Insider, Eat This Not That, and others. When she’s not writing, Lacey is likely pursuing her other interests: skin care, plant-based cooking, pilates, and traveling. You can keep up with her by visiting her website or her blog.
Emily Rekstis is a New York City-based beauty and lifestyle writer who writes for many publications, including Greatist, Racked, and Self. If she’s not writing at her computer, you can probably find her watching a mob movie, eating a burger, or reading an NYC history book. See more of her work on her website, or follow her on Twitter.