Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My experience with Doctor on Demand

When a case of the creepin' crud ruined my holidays, I knew that the length of my misery and symptoms probably meant I had a bacterial sinus infection.  Nothing was working to kick it to the curb.  Last year we found out when we received a pretty hefty bill that our primary care physician dropped our insurance company without letting her patients know.  We tried looking for new in-network providers and the ones with really great ratings were booking out six months!  Uh, hello!  My bacteria laden sinus infections won't wait 6 months and honestly, I'm not a fan of picking one doctor and being passed off to anyone else in the practice.  Call me old fashioned.  (Not shocking for those who have been following a while)

The thought of paying my $10 co-pay *hoping* she gives me a script for meds and then getting some stupid bill for anywhere from $50-100 more between the insurance company and the doctor billing me for her time in her germ ridden office was not on my to do list.  I decided I would break down and let technology be my friend.

If anyone has watched the Dr. Phil show, you've probably heard of Doctor on Demand.  It's an app where you can essentially Skype with a doctor for non emergency purposes and not have to be a slave to when the doc can fit you in, travel to the office and hope you don't pick up what the guy hacking next to you has.  The office visit is $40 for a 15 minute appointment and this day, I was all over that.

You register for an account and give them your address, credit card info and pharmacy info so they can send your prescription right over after your session.  So I tried doing this on the mobile app and unfortunately, it kept crashing.  I have a Nexus with Lollipop and have read (after the fact) complaints from other users with the same phones it keeps crashing. I was irritated because I'd just handed over all my personal info and when it tried to connect is when it would crash.  Oy.  Part of the info they want to know is what your symptoms are so if you're thorough, they won't have to ask you much.  I listed the pertinents...length of symptoms, what I've tried to do to help it along and what meds I'm on, etc.

So I used a tablet instead since it had a camera as well.  I got on the app through that and it was fine.  I thought since it's called Doctor on Demand I'd hit a button and be directly connected to well, a doctor on demand...not that day.   Because of the uptick in the sick people all around the country,  I had to schedule an appointment whose next available slot was an hour away and they give a 15 minute window for them to contact you..  If you figured you called your doctor and they said we can squeeze you in in an hour, you'd probably be satisfied with that.

Screenshot of the page where you click to see the doctor

She called the tablet and we got down to it.  The call lasted 6 1/2 minutes before she shot my prescription off to the pharmacy.  She was very nice, thorough and open to any questions.  It was actually done so quickly that when she asked if I had any questions, I just threw her a bone to see if there were any interactions with my birth control.  I knew from past bouts that you need to use back up because it affects the potency of the pills.  (I can almost hear my mother putting on Marvin Gaye.)  She checked my brand and was going to switch the prescription because it said it would affect the flora in my gut.  Then she saw basically all antibiotics do that and I told her I take pro-biotics and she said that was perfect and it wouldn't affect me as much.  After ending the call, I was asked to rate the doctor.  I could use both a star rating and write something if I wanted too but I didn't.

When a week later I wasn't feeling any relief and actually getting a little worse after two days of feeling better, I called back.  Yeah, it'd be another $40 but a trip to Urgent Care would now be hundreds in the new year with our deductible back to zero.  I got the same doctor and this time it was on demand.  I just had to fill out my symptoms and such and it connected me to her after she reviewed my 'chart.'  She saw I was seven days in and said that it's very possible that I picked up an additional infection while trying to fight this one.  (The Mr was sick this whole time as well as us going out all day one day and I'm sure I could've come in contact with another sickie)  So she prescribed another antibiotic to take.  She was super thorough, nice and I was relieved to see her face again...even if it was sideways on my tablet.  When the Mr picked up the script an hour later, I just blindly popped the pill and then decided to read the pamphlet of side effects.  You know how Santa's list is super long?  So is the list of side effects of this antibiotic and the serious side effects are scary as hell.  I called the pharmacist to ask if this was safe and she said yes and I said even though I'd had tendinitis in the past since one of the side effects is tendinitis or spontaneous rupture of the Achilles tendon?  She said stop taking it and get a different class of antibiotic from the doctor.

Well, I wasn't about to pay another $40 just to get a prescription again and this was on the weekend so I didn't know if the doctor I'd been using was available.  I called the customer support number in my email I got from them and told them the situation and she gave me a credit for a free call to a doctor who could see me immediately.  So I talked to a different doctor and he said he was hesitant to think it was bacterial now since Amoxicillan has a 90% success rate and I wasn't exhibiting all of the typical signs of bacterial infection (basically no constant flow of green goo coming out of my face) and I wasn't a fan of trying a new med if I didn't have to.  I only had one more day of Amoxicillan left so he said to finish that out and start taking two 1000 mg vitamin C doses per day and I should only require more antibiotics if 3-5 days after I stopped taking them I began seeing aforementioned green goo.  Otherwise I'd just have to wait it out.  He said if I needed relief I could do an OTC steroid nasal spray but those things are scary and my condition wasn't painful so I wasn't going down that road and he didn't make it sound like it would help me much anyway.  I was grateful that they issued a free credit so I could speak with someone else and basically get a second opinion.

When your visits are over, the doctor will give their notes taken during the visit on how long to continue treatment or what to do before needing to go to your primary care physician if you have one.

Here are the biggest down sides I experienced.  Most of you would likely use your cell phone, my app on my Nexus kept crashing.  When I switched to my android tablet which had its camera on what would be considered the side if you were reading it like a book page, the app did NOT reorient or flip to match the camera position.  Meaning in order for me to look normal to her on her end, I had to have the whole conference call with her being sideways like she was taking a nap.  Luckily I've got good peripheral vision and it wasn't a problem but that is a MAJOR flaw with this app.  It should flip like any other app and you've got people like me or elderly people who use their tablets for everything and its going to be a big deterrent for them to want to use it regularly if that isn't fixed.

Also, the whole mobile app crashing for Nexus users.  They need to fix that ASAP!

Would I use it again?

Absolutely!  For the little things like a cold or flu, prescriptions or maybe your regular doctor can't fit you in for a few days.  This is a perfect way to see a doctor relatively fast and be on your way.  They cover pediatric, psychological and lactation issues too (with different pricing).  Go to their website if you want to take a peek at what they offer.

Have you ever used Doctor on Demand?  Would you?

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  1. That's a great idea! I'm not sure if my insurance covers a service like that. Probably not - I'm on the get well or die plan. One of my co-workers hubby's used it though and was pretty happy.

    After years of thinking they needed an urgent care center to open in town, one of the offices finally did something really cool. They call it "convenience care". It's basically walk in care (no appts) in the evenings and on weekends. If you need something at 2am you're still out of luck, but when the kid comes down with something Friday night/Saturday morning we no longer have to wait until Monday. Plus since it's not technically urgent care, it's just a regular copay instead of the higher rate.

  2. I've never used it but have heard of it and read a lot about it in magazines. It seems like it's extremely cost effective all around and the services they provide are the same as in person -- without the wait times and travelling in bad weather. I'm glad this worked for you and you are feeling better!!

  3. Trying to get caught up and so glad I read this one. We don't have broadcast tv and at the moment no internet, thank goodness for smart phones and tablets with great data plans. The up side is no annoying commercials, the down side is we miss out on interesting facts like there being something like Doctor on Demand. So glad to have a real review on something that could prove valuable. Thanks!


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