In January, the Hawaii Medical Service Association began offering Internet-based “house calls” in which physicians communicate with patients using streaming video, text chat or phone.
HMSA-covered patients pay $10 for a 10-minute exchange but anyone can get the same 10 minutes in heaven for $45.
Boston-based American Well is choreographing that show, and now other companies have entered the market.
SwiftMD offers services in the New York-New Jersey area and TelaDoc is giving it a go in Dallas.
They all have immediate plans to expand, according to the Wall Street Journal.
They have to be careful though since physicians’ licenses to practice medicine are good only for the issuing state.
And the scope of practice matter is dicey for the new tool, so the companies are going slowly.
SwiftMD for example lists on its site the ailments in its wheelhouse: allergies, colds and flu, rashes, things like that.
The very young and very old are not eligible, nor are those with pregnancy-related issues or serious mental health issues like psychoses.
Big Apple resident Leah Light received a subscription to SwiftMD as a gift from her mom.
Light takes prescription meds for an anxiety disorder.
She recently used the service to refill her prescription.
The online visit lasted 55 minutes and cost $55 with a discount.
Last time she did things the old fashioned way. The doctor visit was time-consuming and set back the uninsured graduate student $260.
“I feel reassured (that) if I need to talk to a doctor, I can without having to blow my food budget for a month,” Light told the Journal. “It makes me feel a lot better.”