by Wendy Kagan
Mobile applications such as LiveHealth Online and MDLIVE use two-way video to connect you over the Internet to a board-certified doctor in your state. The so-called virtual doctors can answer questions, make a diagnosis, and even prescribe medicine in most states (including New York).
Naturally, a virtual doctor won't conduct a hands-on examination, so the service can't replace an in-person visit in every instance. Yet for common complaints such as colds and flus, allergies, sinus infections, digestive issues, and family health, an online appointment can save people the time and hassle of getting to a doctor's office.
The service can also help to cut down on ER visits, and can be a great boon to those who have trouble getting to a doctor, such as the disabled or the elderly. Parents, too, can benefit. Imagine that it's 3am, your baby has a fever - and you can reach a doctor online right away.
A typical online doctor visit through the LiveHealth Online app costs $49 and lasts 10 to 15 minutes. The service is covered by some insurances, including Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Tempted to become an early adopter? Don't wait until you're sick: Download an app now, and the virtual doctors will be at your service when you need them most.