You think you're ready to give this video call with a doctor thing a try. But the problem you've run into now is that you're not sure which service is right for you.
The good news is, outside of the diagnosis you might receive, there's not much holding you back from trying as many telemedicine companies as you want.
Today I'm going to try and help simplify part of that process for you by comparing two of the biggest telemedicine companies in the game.
Teladoc and Doctor on Demand.
We're going to compare these companies across five different categories:
- Company History
- Platform (Web & Mobile App)
- Talking to a Doctor
Before we get started, I just want to be upfront and let you know our agency sells Teladoc's services as part of this benefit package. But that doesn't mean it's going to be the right fit for you.
Let's start comparing.
The company has been around since 2002 according to its company history on their website, however from several news articles it looks like they officially started talking patients in 2005.
Teladoc Inc. is a corporation that administers services for TelaDoc Physicians, P.A. Teladoc, Inc. is not licensed to practice medicine and must contract with one or more professional associations and/or licensed physicians to provide telephone and online video consult to members.
TelaDoc Physicians, P.A. is a professional association owned by U.S. licensed physicians that employs or otherwise contracts with one or more physicians licensed to practice medicine. TelaDoc Physicians, P.A. purchases administrative services from Teladoc, Inc. to assist with the operational and administrative functions related to providing telephone and video consult to members.
Doctor on Demand
Doctor on Demand was launched in 2012 by Jay McGraw and Adam Jackson out of San-Francisco, California.
Jay McGraw is actually the son of Dr. Phil (yep that Dr. Phil on TV) and also serves as the executive producer for another doctor show, "The Doctors."
The service is made up of approximately 1,400 physicians around the country.
The company states on their website their goal is to provide fast, easy and cost-effective access to some of the best doctors, psychologists, and other healthcare providers in the country.
Their doctors are Board-Certified Physicians, who can treat nearly any medical problem.
This is where you are going to see the biggest difference between these two companies.
Teladoc offers subscription style pricing, normally sold as part of a package with other discount benefits. You pay a flat monthly fee and you can get treatment from their doctors whenever you need.
Doctor on Demand charges you around $49 per visit.
These two pricing models are really a matter of preference and to some extent overall value.
Personally, I would rather pay the monthly fee for more healthcare at a lower cost. Paying $49 for a virtual office visit isn't much different than just going to see your actual doctor in real life.
The only difference is that you don't have to leave your house to do it.
With Teladoc's pricing model you don't have to worry about paying for another follow-up visit or if your other kid gets sick a few days later.
It's like watching a TV show on Netflix vs. iTunes. If it's on Netflix you can watch as many episodes as you want for your $9.99 a month. iTunes however, is going to get you for $2.99 per episode.
Platform (App & Website)
I've tried video calls with Teladoc on both my desktop computer and my phone. My first video visit was done on my desktop and went surprisingly well.
I set up my initial profile and provided my medical history. You can also add your kids and their medical history as well.
When doing a video call on your desktop Teladoc requires you to complete a video test to make sure your system can handle the video call. Once that test was completed I was almost immediately talking with the doctor.
As for the Teladoc app, it has been downloaded 50,000 time in the Google Play store and has a 4.0 rating (yes I'm an android guy).
Overall I really like the app, it's simple and easy to use. I requested a consult right from the home screen.
It asks who the visit was for, me or one of my kids that were on the account. I selected myself and again was almost immediately placed in a call with the doctor.
Both platforms had acceptable audio and video quality during my two visits.
Doctor on Demand
I did the same thing for Doctor on Demand, one visit on my desktop and one on my phone.
The DOD app (not the Department of Defense) is also pretty easy to use (it's been downloaded 500,000 times in the Google Play Store and has a 4.6 rating). It's a close toss up, but I probably prefer the overall look and feel of Teladoc's app.
The mobile visit experience with Doctor on Demand was pretty seamless. I was connected to a doctor within 90 seconds.
The audio and video quality were perfectly fine as well and I never experienced a problem.
Spoiler Alert: I'm almost positive that won't be the case for either of these platforms the more you or I use them.
I did confirm with the Doctor on Demand doctor I saw that one of their biggest issues with patients is their (your) WiFi connection.
Strangely enough, because Doctor on Demand is a pay per visit service, they don't allow you to save any detailed medical history for repeated used, either for yourself or your children.
Every time you request a visit you would have to re-enter that information, where with Teladoc, because it's an ongoing service, you can save that information for future use.
Doctor on Demand also requires you to compete a computer test before seeing the doctor on your computer. It gives you the option to select and test your camera, microphone and speakers that you want to use for the visit.
If you're a normal person, you'll just have the default options that came with your computer.
Talking to a Doctor
Once I was connected with the doctor I was very upfront and told him I was testing out the service because our agency was considering offering Teladoc's services to people.
He was very understanding and helpful explaining the process and what he normally does for patients. He was even kind enough to walk though some fake symptoms with me.
For my second visit I tried try the Teladoc app,
Strangely enough it happened to be the exact same doctor I did my first visit with a few weeks earlier.
He didn't seem to remember me right away, but again I was upfront and told him I think we talked before. He was nice enough to entertain my investigation a second time, however this time I did have a cold for him to try his doctor skills on.
He asked me the standard doctor questions about my cold and then launched into prescribing me Flonase and ZyrTEC.
I wasn't crazy with this diagnosis but received a very similar one from my Doctor on Demand visit.
Doctor on Demand
Just like Teladoc, once you request a visit you're tossed in a pool of people and connect with the next available doctor licensed in your state.
When I first entered the "exam room" the doctor asked me to describe my symptoms. Once we got past the pleasantries of getting to know my symptoms the doctor started in on what ended up being the main difference between their service and Teladoc.
That is their more extensive virtual exam.
They are the only company of the "big three" that tries to simulate a traditional office exam as much as possible.
Meaning they make you open your mouth and say aww, pull down your eyelids and feel your forehead for sinus pressure.
On the heels of that though I noticed what is Doctor on Demand's biggest weakness, a visit timer.
There's a little timer in the upper right hand corner above the doctors video feed that counts down from 15 min. Which is the amount of time you get for your $49 visit.
Even though I'm pretty sure all of the "big three" companies are trying to keep their visits to under 15 minutes, blatantly shoving it in your face is a nerve-wracking experience knowing you're on the clock.
To be fair, during my second visit with a DOD doctor, I asked about the timer and they told me that they can extend the visit if needed at no extra charge. But, if you're just rambling on and not moving things forward, they do have the ability to charge you for the extra time.
As for the treatment, I was told to treat my congestion with Mucinex and any aches or pains with IBUProfen and/or Tylenol.
I did want to try and put this doctor through their paces and countered the initial recommendation by asking for more natural options. The doctor then told me to try saline solution, a neti pot or steamy showers to help with the congestion.
After each visit you're provided with a message in your Teladoc account that will recap the diagnosis and medications/treatment prescribed, if any.
You'll also have access to any notes your doctor might have made during your visit.
Teladoc also sends you email notification for any prescription medications the doctor may have ordered with a number to the pharmacy you listed in your account.
Doctor on Demand
While they don't send any email notifications, you're going to have access to a documents page and more importantly a visit history page that will easily allow you to book a follow-up visit with a preferred doctor if needed.
Outside of that Doctor on Demand is a little light on the overall follow process.
The Bottom Line
Even though it is a pretty small sample size, both companies have substantially exceeded my expectations for telemedicine.
It seems, just like anything else, your mileage will vary depending on the doctor talk to. The most encouraging part so far is that mileage has been good to great.
While Doctor on Demand's thorough exam was interesting, I don't know how effective it ultimately was. The timed visit is by far one of the strangest choices I've run across from any of the big companies.
Teladoc's lower monthly rate on the other hand leaves you with zero risk to book several visit from doctors.
At the end of the day it's going to come down to the same thing as everything else, price.
If you are looking for access to more healthcare at a lower cost Teladoc is probably going to be your best bet. If you prefer less medical treatment at a higher cost Doctor on Demand will be your pick.
Let's take you behind the office door and show you exactly what the process is like booking a virtual doctor's appointment.