Contributor, Benzinga
Updated: April 19, 2021

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Telehealth/telemedicine apps make healthcare more accessible. You can see a healthcare provider at a time that works for you from your home or office. It’s convenient, affordable and beats waiting for an hour in a crowded, uncomfortable waiting room. Learn more about the best telemedicine apps. 

Best Telemedicine Apps

Here are Benzinga’s picks for the best telehealth apps. 

Best for Care Options: MDLIVE

MDLIVE offers health care options for more than 80 conditions. You can consult with a provider about medical conditions like sinus infections, cold and flu and headaches, dermatological conditions like acne and eczema, and psychiatry and talk therapy. 

The cost of a visit depends on the type of care. Medical care can cost up to $85, depending on your insurance coverage. Initial psychiatric visits are the most expensive, costing up to $284, depending on your insurance. 

All of its doctors are board-certified with an average of 15 years or more of experience. 

Best for Preventive Care: Doctor on Demand

Doctor on Demand offers around-the-clock access to health care professionals. It’s also a covered benefit with many health insurance plans. You can check whether your insurance plan participates when you sign up. 

In addition to treating chronic conditions and providing urgent care, Doctor on Demand also offers preventive health support. It provides lifestyle counseling, lab work, smoking cessation assistance, medication management, hormone replacement counseling and more. 

DentalPlans.com
Best For
  • Saving money on dental expenses
securely through DentalPlans.com's website

Best for Plan Options: DentalPlans.com

DentalPlans.com offers more than dental savings plans. It also offers 3 plans with telehealth benefits. 

Its :DP HealthNow plan focuses on telehealth. The plan brings access to telemedicine and eDocAmerica, a website that allows you to connect with healthcare providers online. You also have access to its NurseLine. This plan doesn’t include dental savings. 

Its :DP Complete Care plan offers the same telehealth benefits as the :DP Health Now plan, plus dental savings. 

Its :DP Smart Health plan offers telemedicine, eDocAmerica, personal counseling, prescription, hearing and vision discounts and dental savings. 

After you pay for your initial membership, there are no additional fees for using telemedicine services. With most plans, you pay a fee per call, so this is also a significant savings. 

Best for Mental Health: Talkspace

Talkspace is a popular mental health app. You pay a monthly membership fee, and it provides you with access to a therapist you can meet with and reach out to via text. It offers psychiatry, individual therapy, couples therapy and teen therapy. 

Talkspace professionals can treat issues like depression, eating disorders, anxiety, substance abuse, trauma, grief and more. You can choose a professional who specializes in the type of care that you need. 

Best for Affordability: K Health

K Health allows you to take control of your health. Its symptom checker helps you determine whether you need to see a doctor or not. If you do, you have 2 options. You can pay $19 for a 1-time visit for yourself or a child aged 3 or older. 

You can also opt for a Primary Care Membership. This is $9 per month and entitles you to unlimited chats with doctors who can diagnose illnesses, prescribe meds and order lab work. It can also handle prescription refills. 

Best for Prescriptions: Lemonaid

Lemonaid makes it easy to get prescriptions for common conditions, including insomnia, anxiety, depression, acne, hair loss and more. To use the service, you fill out a questionnaire that its healthcare providers review. 

The providers may reach out with questions. If they review your info and feel it’s safe to do so, they’ll write a prescription, which you can have filled through its mail-order pharmacy or a local one. If they don’t feel comfortable writing you a prescription, the service will refund your consultation fee. 

Best for Doctor Choice: LiveHealth Online

With most services, you see the 1st available health care provider. While that’s convenient, you may want to look for a doctor with specific expertise. LiveHealth Online allows you to choose your doctor. You can review their profile and find one that’s the best fit. 

LiveHealth Online costs $59 or less per visit, and it doesn’t charge a membership fee. It also accepts some insurance plans. 

What is a Telemedicine App?

Telehealth/telemedicine apps allow you to speak with a health care provider using an app on your phone. Some may also work with your computer. Services may be on-demand, which means you see a different provider each time you use the app. Other services allow you to see the same provider for multiple visits. 

Telehealth and telemedicine apps may also have a specialty. Some focus on mental health care, others focus on reproductive care and others may focus on urgent care. 

The apps may charge per visit, and most have relatively modest fees. 

Pros and Cons on Telehealth Apps

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of telehealth apps:

Pros

  • Access to doctors quickly
  • You don’t need to travel to a doctor’s office
  • Reasonable prices
  • Often have availability outside business hours

Cons

  • No physical exam
  • Technology can be unreliable 
  • May feel impersonal
  • Some options may not be covered by insurance

Requirements for HIPAA-Compliant Apps and Software

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires health care providers to protect patient privacy. HIPAA also applies to business associates of health care providers, which means it applies to telehealth/telemedicine apps. 

Here’s how HIPAA-compliant apps and software protect your privacy:

  • They limit who can see your information. Only those who have a reason to view your medical history, like your provider, can view your information. 
  • They confirm that the person requesting access to your information is who they say they are. They have safeguards in place like multi-factor authentication. 
  • They use encryption. Encryption ensures that your data can’t be read when it’s sent over the internet. 

You can also take steps to protect yourself when using these apps. Use secure internet (not public Wi-Fi), log out of the app when you’re done, use a strong, unique password for the app and lock your screen when you’re not using your phone. 

Technical Requirements

If you have an up-to-date smartphone, you have everything you need to use a telehealth app, including a camera and microphone. If your smartphone is older, you may want to download and test the app you want to use from the Google Play or Apple App store before spending money with a telemedicine app. You may need to use Wi-Fi on your phone for the best connection, but apps typically work with LTE or 4G/5G connections as well. 

If you’re planning to use a computer, you typically need one that’s running Windows 7, Vista, XP, or Windows 10 or macOS 10.6 or later. You also need an updated browser like Google Chrome or Firefox, a camera with at least 1.3 megapixels, and a microphone. Ideally, you should also have broadband, high-speed internet.

Is Telemedicine Right for You?

If you’re comfortable using phone apps, telehealth/telemedicine apps could be right for you. They’re fast, affordable and an excellent option for routine, ongoing health care needs and common illnesses like the flu. Each app has pros and cons, so don’t hesitate to try a few to find a good fit. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions & Answers

Q
Q. Is telemedicine the same as video conferencing?
A

Telemedicine is similar to video conferencing in that you’re visiting with a health care provider using your phone or internet. It’s different from video conferencing because it’s focusing on your health. 

Because it involves your personal health information, telemedicine providers must be HIPAA-compliant. That means they are required to keep your health information secure. Some video conferencing options don’t have the encryption and other privacy options needed to be HIPAA compliant.

Q
Q. Are virtual doctor visits cheaper?
A

Whether virtual doctor visits are cheaper depends on several factors. For example, if you don’t have health insurance, it may be cheaper to use a telehealth app to access care. If you do have insurance, it may cost the same or more to use a telehealth app. Many health insurance plans contract with a telehealth provider. If you’re concerned about cost and have insurance, ask your insurance company which telehealth options they recommend.