For many people, getting an appointment to see their doctor can be challenging. And if you don’t have a doctor but need to see one, it can take weeks to months to get one of those coveted new patient slots.
As a result, “Doc in a box” and urgent care clinics have taken off across the country. And as with everything else in healthcare, that trend has gone digital. And this year, the success of two companies in particular could make this a breakout year for the virtual doctor visit.
Teladoc made headlines this week with a very successful IPO that saw share prices go up 50% in the first day of trading. Teladoc is a company that offers on-demand doctor visits to patients through their smartphones, computer, or regular old phone for under $50. Basically, you put in a request for a consultation to Teladoc and they connect you with a board certified internal medicine, pediatrics, or family practice physician. Teladoc boasts that patients get connected with a physician in under 10 minutes.
Teladoc offers members an EHR that is basically a patient-provided medical history. Consulting physicians review that record and get a history from the patient. If needed, they can e-prescribe medications to a local pharmacy.
Patients can sign up directly for Teladoc and pay out of pocket if they want. Health plans and companies are also contracting with Teladoc to provide this service to their members and employees in the hopes of averting more expensive urgent care and ER visits.
Doctors on Demand
Doctor on Demand offers video visits to patients through their smartphone or computer. Like Teladoc, Doctor on Demand offers consults in general medicine and pediatrics. They are more varied in their physician pool; for example, their highlighted medical physicians include preventive medicine, emergency medicine, and internal medicine physicians. A really interesting feature here though is that they also offer mental health consults with psychologists and lactation support with certified lactation consultants.
Patients sign up directly with Doctor on Demand. Visits with a medical physician or pediatrician cost $40; visits with a psychologist or lactation consultant range from $40 to $95. And as with Teladoc, companies and health plans are signing directly with Doctors on Demand to provide that service to their employees and members.
The support that these two companies have garnered this year is a strong sign that this area is poised for some serious growth.