Are Doctor-On-Demand Apps Safe and Effective?

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I’ve seen a lot of doctor-on-demand apps lately, and they seem handy to use instead of visiting an actual doctor. What do you make of them?

I can see why they’ve become popular — it can be tough to get in to see a doctor, and using an app seems like a fast, convenient alternative. But I’m not a fan of most of these services. You’re relying on someone who doesn’t know you and isn’t familiar with your medical history. And because you expect expedited service, I suspect that the physicians will be more likely to look for a quick fix. (A recent report revealed that teleconference doctors prescribe more broad-spectrum antibiotics — drugs that can kill both bad and good bacteria.)

My advice: Make the time to find a doctor you respect and have a rapport with, and who is willing to answer your questions over the phone or via email. Recently, I’ve been doing Skype appointments with patients who are traveling or working abroad. I’ve found that progressive physicians are doing the same, and opening up to new forms of technology.

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