10 Apps That Let You See a Doctor Without Leaving Your House
Whether you’re feeling lousy in the middle of flu season or find yourself laid low by a rogue bug mid-summer, sometimes you know you should go to the doctor but don’t want to leave home to negotiate traffic, go sit in the waiting room, and explain what’s going on to your physician. Fortunately, developers have created a wide range of apps that enable you to consult with a doctor without leaving home. There are more than 8,000 health and fitness apps to choose among in the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store, so we’ve done the detective work for you and chosen 10 of the best apps that’ll enable you to talk to a physician without the wait or waiting room.
1. Doctor on Demand
Doctor on Demand is one of the best-known names in the telemedicine game, and for good reason. The app enables you to consult a physician or a psychologist by video, without leaving your home. To talk to a physician for yourself or for a child, you pay just $40 per visit, which makes it easy to get treatment for a cold, the flu, sports injuries, travel-related illnesses, and more. You can consult with a psychologist for $50 for a 25-minute session or $95 for a 50-minute session to get help with stress, anxiety, depression, addictions, eating problems, and other issues. Doctor on Demand is available on Android, iOS, or on the web.
DermatologistOnCall is a great service to keep in mind for the times when you have a skin issue and don’t want to wait for an appointment at your local dermatologist. The service’s board-certified dermatologists can identify and treat conditions like acne, athlete’s foot, eczema, genital herpes, lice, poison ivy, psoriasis, rosacea, and shingles. They can even be the first to diagnose basal cell carcinoma or melanoma. When you use DermatologistOnCall, you’ll share photos and a description of your condition, and your dermatologist will provide a diagnosis, a personalized treatment plan, and appropriate prescriptions. The service costs $59 and is available online via a HIPAA-compliant platform.
FirstLine offers concierge doctor house calls for patients in San Francisco, which can be a great option if you’re not totally comfortable conversing with a doctor via a video call and would prefer to talk face-to-face. The service starts at $199 for daytime visits, though you can call any time. FirstLine’s doctors can perform an assortment of procedures at your home or office, including the administration of IV fluids, suturing, minor surgery, EKGs, and more. They can also perform tests, such as those for strep, the flu, HIV, and more. The cost of the visit can be fully or partially reimbursed by many insurers. You can book a visit by calling the phone number on FirstLine’s website. The company plans to expand beyond San Francisco to Boston, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle, and D.C.
4. First Opinion
First Opinion can connect you with a doctor for free — something that few other apps offer. You can talk to a doctor 24 hours a day for free. The average response time is 2:35, so that you can get an answer (and peace of mind) without waiting long, whether your question is about allergies, the flu, a chronic condition, sexual health, a rash, or a sleeping disorder. If you need your doctor to send prescriptions to your local pharmacy or order lab tests, that costs $35. You don’t have to have insurance to use First Opinion, but if you do, prescribed services are often covered. Your doctor will follow up with you to see how you’re progressing, and you can ask follow-up questions for free. First Opinion is available on iOS.
Ginger.io gives you an easier way to take control of your depression or anxiety. You can talk to a coach via chat or a phone call right away, instead of waiting to get an appointment with a specialist. From there, your coach will create a personalized care plan, and can schedule you an appointment with a therapist who practices evidence-based psychotherapy. If you’re considering medication, Ginger.io’s care team can connect with your primary care physician to share information and determine your medication needs. The app offers self-care tools you can use 24/7, and sends basic information to your coach so that they can check on you if, for instance, you haven’t left the house in a few days. You can sign up for the service via the Ginger.io website.
[Update 4/4/2016: Added San Diego to like of locations.]
Heal enables users in California to schedule a house call any day of the week between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Heal sends a background-checked, licensed primary care physician to your home, office, or hotel room at a time that’s convenient for you. That makes it easier to get a diagnosis and treatment when you’re sick, to get a physical when you’re well, or anytime you need to see a primary care physician without the wait and the germ-infested waiting room. House calls are currently available in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, San Diego, and Silicon Valley, and the company plans to expand to other cities. The app is available on Android and iOS.
HealthTap is an app that offers you access to health knowledge organized and curated by doctors, plus a Virtual Consult feature that enables you to talk to a doctor via video, voice, or text. You can get help via the web or on a smartphone, where you can share photos and test results and get immediate answers, treatment, and referrals. With a HealthTap Prime subscription, you get unlimited consults and 24/7 video and text chat. With the HealthTap Concierge service, you can connect with your personal doctors via video, voice, or text from anywhere in the world. HealthTap is available on the web or for Android or iOS.
Opternative offers a fast and convenient way to get a new prescription for glasses or contacts. The company offers an online exam that you can take with your smartphone and computer. The exam is free to take, and you can pay $40 for a glasses or contacts prescription or $60 for both. You’ll receive a signed prescription that you can use to get glasses or contacts anywhere. The service accepts major debit and credit cards, plus HSA and FSA cards. It’s worth noting that while Opternative is a convenient way to update your glasses or contacts prescription, you shouldn’t think of it as a replacement for a traditional eye health exam, which it’s recommend you see your ophthalmologist for at least once every two years.
Pager offers on-demand house calls within two hours for patients in New York and San Francisco. You can connect with a nurse to get answers to your questions, receive medical advice over the phone, and get a visit from a doctor at your home, office, or hotel. Pager’s doctors offer evaluation, diagnosis, and even appropriate prescriptions for common illnesses, minor injuries, and minor skin conditions. They can also complete physicals for school or employment, offer urgent care for children 6 months or older, and deliver your prescriptions. The app is available on iOS. Your first visit will cost just $50; after that, an in-person visit costs $200 and a physical costs $100.
PlushCare enables you to get diagnosed, treated, and prescribed medication right from your phone. You can get a same-day appointment, and your doctor will contact you to consult about your symptoms and offer treatment. PlushCare’s doctors can diagnose, recommend treatment, and prescribe medications for cold and flu symptoms, bronchitis, allergies, poison ivy, pink eye, respiratory infections, medication refills, and more. Your doctor can send your prescription to your local pharmacy. You can use PlushCare whether or not you have insurance; the first visit costs $99, and visits cost $69 for existing patients and future visits. The service is currently available to users in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington, and will expand to more states. You can set an appointment online, and PlushCare’s app is available on iOS.