Must-Tries Real moms reveal whether on-demand doctor apps are a cure-all or just another headache.
Healthcare for your kids from the comfort of your couch? From house calls to virtual appointments, we asked working moms to test new services that promise on-demand doctors for newborns to adults.
Serves: Available in and around Los Angeles,
Orange County, San Diego and San Francisco, as well as Washington, DC, and northern Virginia
Cost: Heal accepts many insurance plans, and most patients are charged only their co-pay. Without insurance, there’s a $99 flat fee for an appointment. Services performed during the appointment are included in the price, unless otherwise specified.
About: Heal sends a doctor to your home (or just about anywhere else) for urgent and primary-care issues within two hours of your request. Checkups can be booked a day or two in advance. With more than 75 licensed, certified physicians on staff, qualified pediatricians and family practitioners are available to meet with children for sick visits, well visits, camp and school physicals, and vaccinations. Heal’s doctors can handle anything from strep to stitches, and are able to prescribe medications and order lab work or imaging. Schedule appointments online, over the phone or via the Heal app, where payment and insurance information can be saved. View doctor profiles online, and request a specific practitioner by calling the patient-support team.
Doctor On Demand
Serves: All 50 states and Washington, DC
Cost: Many leading insurance plans are accepted, and the cost is similar to an office co-pay. Patients without insurance can pay cash: $75 for a medical visit, $79-plus for a psychology visit, and $229 for an initial psychiatry visit.
About: Connect 24/7 with a board-certified, licensed physician over live video in minutes. Each 15-minute appointment starts with a review of your intake form and your child’s current symptoms. Thanks to high-definition video, the doctor may then take a closer look at the issue—yes, that could mean putting the camera up to your little one’s mouth for a look at their throat, for example —or even ask you to help perform a physical exam. The practitioners are able to prescribe medication and order lab work, and can treat 18 of the top 20 medical issues seen by urgent care and the ER, including rashes, sprains and vomiting. Appointments can be made on the website or app, and video calls can be made by smartphone, tablet or computer. You can browse physicians’ profiles or choose to see the next available doctor. “I made an appointment using the app for the late evening to accommodate my schedule—a nice change from cramming in an inconvenient trip to the pediatrician’s office. I had a chance to read about the physician I was matched with before our call, which made me more comfortable. During our appointment, he listened to my description of my 2-year-old’s wheezing cough, answered my questions thoughtfully, and provided me with possible solutions. He even recommended a natural option when I wasn’t pleased with one of the suggested medications. Between the convenience and the fact that they accept insurance, using the service again is a no-brainer for me!” —Stacey Charles, Queens, NY, global strategist for advertising media
All 50 states and Washington, DC
Cost: There’s an annual $100 subscription fee per family, and a $45 charge to speak or video chat with a physician. Insurance doesn’t lower the cost, but the $45 co-pay goes toward your deductible.
About: Through its partnership with the largest telehealth physician network, Teladoc, Hello Alvin connects families with more than 3,000 board-certified, state-licensed doctors, and hundreds of registered nurses. Once you’re enrolled, the average wait time for a voice or video consult with an experienced pediatrician is under 10 minutes, and you get unlimited 24/7 access to email doctors and talk to registered nurses over the phone. While you can’t choose a specific practitioner, Teladoc’s doctors average 20 years of experience. Plus, they can treat more than 30 percent of the concerns that send parents to the emergency room, urgent care and the pediatrician’s office—including upper respiratory infections, pink eye and more. Appointments can be requested from your phone, tablet, desktop or the Teladoc app, and a doctor will call you back by phone or video chat. “I added the app to my phone and booked an appointment for my 3-yearold son’s congestion, fever and coughing. The app was easy to use and it took only 10 minutes to get a video conference call from a doctor. The doctor was friendly, but we chatted for less than five minutes. She diagnosed my son with a cold and recommended I continue treating his fever with Tylenol. While I loved the convenience, I’d be more likely to use it again if insurance covered the full fee.” —Amber Knight, Statham, GA, childcare associate, YMCA
New apps like Heal can send a doctor to your home (virtually or IRL) in a snap.
“Making an appointment on Heal’s website was easy, although when I signed in on a Saturday to schedule my 4-yearold’s well visit, they were booked until Monday. I was put off by having to book a twohour appointment window, but our doctor showed up...