Imagine being in a situation when you have a fever on a Friday night and your doctor’s office is closed until Monday? If you wait for your doctor’s office to open on Monday, your symptoms may even worsen. So, instead of risking and waiting, you can consult an online available doctor. Taking care of your health should be your priority and now there is no excuse to avoid the doctor, as two-thirds of U.S. citizens delay their doctor’s visit.
Receiving medical advice online by a licensed doctor can happen through email, text message, phone call, video call, etc. Since people are getting short on time, and sometimes they are unable to visit the doctor’s office that may require an hour or two drive, telemedicine is getting quite popular. Medical care received by online ways of communication can be quite helpful in those moments of need. Even if you just want to avoid a germ-infested waiting room.
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However, you have to pay attention to finding a legitimate and licensed doctor online. Sometimes, you can be tricked by an illegitimate doctor and receive poor services. That’s the reason why in this article, we’ll help you find a reliable doctor who’ll diagnose, give advice and provide a prescription for your current condition. Finding the right doctor consists of the following 5 steps:
Step 1: Go Online and See the Offers
There are so many health and medicine websites, where you can get online doctors. Just by Googling some terms such as: “online doctor”, “telemedicine” or “virtual medicine”, you’ll get a list of results. However, if you aren’t familiar with the telemedicine jargon, you can check out the glossary of telemedicine and e-health by California Telemedicine & EHealth Center.
Once you get to some e-health websites, you have to check what each doctor offers. For instance, to consult with some doctors you have to pay a one-time fee, while others will require a monthly or yearly subscription. Once you check out the terms of service and subscription, you can contact the doctor directly through email, chat or call and ask them to give you more details.
Step 2: What Is Covered by Your Insurance Provider?
Before making your choice concerning an online doctor, you should check out whether the online doctor’s consultations will be covered by your health insurance policy. If you’re having any doubts, check out with your insurance provider whether this online medical help will be covered or not. In fact, most new insurance policies will encourage you to use telemedicine as a diagnosis method for minor issues. This way you can actually save money, compared to visiting the doctor’s office.
Step 3: Check the Doctor’s Credentials
Every licensed doctor has board certifications that are managed and issued by the government. Any doctor that is illegitimate will be outside this credentials area. So, it’s your responsibility to check out what certifications your online doctor has. Before making your choice, check out your doctor’s certifications on the website www.certificationmatters.org. All you’ll need is the doctor’s name and address. If the doctor’s website provides a phone number you can always call them to send you a copy of their credentials through fax or email.
Check Your Local Regulations
While it’s very important to check the doctor’s credentials before choosing one, you should also check the local laws. This way you can see what they say about taking prescriptions from online doctors. Some U.S. states don’t allow prescription of online medicine and others allow only a limited list of online prescriptions that you can receive. Bear in mind that you should oblige to the local laws according to the state you live in, no matter whether you’re choosing an online doctor from a different state.
Step 4: Read Patient Reviews
Checking out the patient reviews for a certain doctor is a good step prior to choosing the right doctor for you. While every doctor will have reviews on their website, there are also other medical forums you can check out. Getting a variety of patient’s reviews is available on Yelp, ZocDocs, WebMD, etc. At these forums and chat rooms, you can also ask questions yourself and get a more detailed insight into a certain professional. This is quite a convenient way to check out other people’s experiences and learn from their mistakes or accept their recommendations.
Step 5: How to Avoid Scams?
If you are looking for alternative medicine practitioners online, you can very easily be scammed. Unlike doctors who have certain certifications and credentials, alternative medicine professionals don’t have their diplomas or certificates provided by the government. Be careful in believing in everything that is said online. Also, pay close attention to patient reviews. If all the reviews for a certain doctor reveal how their condition was miraculously cured, then it might be a scam. Look out for terminology such as: “detoxify”, “balance your hormones”, “harmonize your body”, because these promises don’t really have a medical background.
As you have read, finding a reliable and legitimate online doctor will save you from the trouble of dragging yourself to the doctor’s office for a minor health issue. In addition, the process of finding the right online doctor who would have the credentials, knowledge, and experience can be quite challenging. However, if you follow the 5 steps mentioned above, you’ll very likely make a clear distinction of what’s worthy and which doctors you shouldn’t spend your time on. Read through the patient’s reviews, consult with your insurance provider and check your doctor’s credentials. Then, you’ll definitely choose the right professional for you!