How to Consult Online Doctors with HealthTap

Healthtap is a service that lets you talk to doctors over the internet, in the privacy of your home. You can use text chat, audio or video call.

I frequently use the service myself and I love it.

HealthTap Review: Why Should You Use It?

When we decide to make an appointment with a doctor, there are many time-consuming steps to perform before we actually speak with a doctor.

First of all, you may wait weeks, and sometimes even months, for an opening in the doctor’s schedule. Then you have to get yourself to the medical office.  Once there, you will inevitably spend time in the waiting room.

This is quite a laborious and out-dated way to seek medical advice. Talking to a physician can be so much easier in the digital age.

With HealthTap you can connect with a physician online quickly, even instantly for some services. The longest I’ve had to wait for an appointment was a few days. No driving to the medical office necessary.  You probably already have everything you need to use HealthTap.

If you want to text chat with a doctor, you only need a keyboard. For a call, the minimum requirement is a microphone. A webcam is optional, if you want to see the doctor you are talking to.  And today, laptops are equipped with both microphones and webcams.

Alternatively, you can use HealthTap’s app. With the app you need nothing more than a smartphone to talk to a doctor.

Highly Dedicated Physicians

When you use HealthTap, you will find that their physicians are much more caring than the doctors you would see in a traditional office. The reason is simple: medical offices and hospitals make money with tests and procedures. When doctors spend time talking to patients, they aren’t generating income to support their practice. Talking does not pay well. That is why, often patients feel like they are herded around like cattle when seeing a doctor.

When you use HealthTap, there is a fundamental difference: You pay the physicians for a fixed amount of their time. That is why the physician won’t try to get patients in and out as fast as possible. Instead, you can ask as many questions as you wish and discuss all the details you desire without the uneasy feeling of being rushed.

Online consultations make it easier to find a general doctor or a specialist, no matter where you live. It is especially convenient if you live in a rural area where physical access to both clinics and specialists are limited.

It is also extremely useful if you travel. For example, I often travel to developing countries, both for work and for fun. If I fall ill, it can be a challenge to find a doctor or a specialist who speaks English! But with an online doctor, I can get help, in English, wherever there is an internet connection.

Limitations of an Online Doctor

Critics of online medical consultations claim that these types of visits aren’t thorough enough. Often tests or physical examinations are necessary, which an online doctor cannot perform. There is some logic to this.

Of course, an online consultation will never completely replace a physical visit at a doctor`s office.

doctor is examining a patient

For some things, a doctor will need to do a physical examinations or tests.

However, there are many situations in which a doctor’s physical presence is not needed.

When you consult a doctor with a health issue for the first time, dialogue is most important. A caring doctor will ask a lot of questions to determine the possible cause of your problem. This is HealthTap’s greatest strength. A physician won’t feel pressured to perform as many tests and procedures as possible like in a hospital setting. Instead he can take the time to have an in-depth conversation about your health with you. 

During an online consultation, the HealthTap physician might be able to make a recommendation or give instructions, which you can easily follow. If, on the other hand, the online physician determines that you need an offline doctor, he or she can tell you exactly which specialist you need to see.

Second opinions are another of HealthTap’s strengths. You might already have all your test results, but are not sure whether your local doctor's recommendation is the best for you. HealthTap uses a simple platform to upload your reports. You can then have a digital consultation and get your second opinion.

Two Different Service Plans

After registering on HealthTap, you have access to the free area. Here, you can browse for physicians, see their HealthTap reviews that other patients have left, and ask free questions in the public area.

But those free questions are more of a marketing tool. You can find more information by just googling things.

The real value is in the two core offers: HealthTap Prime and HealthTap Concierge.

HealthTap Prime: the Flat Rate

With HealthTap Prime you can consult physicians as often as you want, whenever you need to.

The service is instant. When you want advice, the platform connects you to the next available physician. When I tested HealthT​​​​ap for this review, I was connected with a doctor immediately each time.

The catch of the flat rate model is that you cannot choose the physician you talk to. That is, you cannot choose the type of specialist to talk to, like an ENT or a neurologist. Instead, HealthTap connects you to whoever is available at the time of your call.

This flat rate service is great for someone with frequent questions that need answering. If you have small children, for example, you could use this service. It’s good for questions that you would usually see a general practicioner about.

HealthTap Prime is not the right service for patients with very specific questions or diseases which need the aid and advice of specialists.

HealthTap Concierge: Pay-on-Demand Online Doctors

This is the service I use..

With HealthTap Concierge you can browse through all the doctors and choose the one you want to consult with. You can also read the reviews that other patients have left.

The online booking system shows available time slots that you can reserve. Most physicians offer 15-minute and 30-minute sessions. Often there is not a big price difference between the two different lengths. So I recommend booking 30-minute sessions as a rule, unless you know you only have a quick question or follow-up. 

A woman talking to a online doctor on healthtap

HealthTap’s concierge service is like a normal consultation with a medical specialist. It is just online.

Quite Affordable for What You Get

There is no fixed price for the on-demand consultation through HealthTap. The online doctors can charge what they want. Most physicians I found charge between $60 and $70 per half-hour consultations. But there are some that charge $300 and up.

My impression is that most of the doctors who use HealthTap are not in it for the money.

They seem more interested in trying out online consultations themselves. Remember many physicians have a very stressful job, especially if they work in a hospital. Many are searching for a way to work as a doctor without the unhealthy stress that often comes with it. That is why some are shifting to online consultations. They charge less to have a better work-life balance. That’s why you can find amazing and caring physicians online for less money than you would pay offline. At least for now. I assume prices will rise over time when online consultations become more widespread.

A Personal Example

Let me give you an example of when I had an online video call with an online physician in the past.

I wanted a second opinion for my MRI results.

MRI’s are those big, noisy tubes that you are pushed into, which then take images of your body. These images are interpreted by a radiologist.

However, every radiologist interprets what they see a bit differently. That is why I sought a second opinion through HealthTap. I easily uploaded all the images onto the platform and an online radiologist gave me his opinion on what they mean.

How to Get Started

I highly recommend trying HealthTap out when you need to see a physician the next time. Be it for an acute problem, prevention or just to improve your general state of health.

After signing up, you can browse around as much as you want and check out which doctors are available. You only pay if you book the flat rate model or an on-demand consultation.

Click here to check out HealthTap for free.