Service Links Patients with Doctors Via Video Chat

Dennis Faas's picture

A new service aims to connect people with a real doctor through their Internet-connected device. It's called telemedicine, and for some people it could be the most efficient way to receive a diagnosis and access a prescription.

The service is being offered by American Well, which says it's the first company to connect patients to doctors via live video chat sessions.

American Well (AW) is by no means the first 'telemedicine' company -- Teladoc, First Stop Health, and Apogee Doctor On Call all connect patients with doctors using a phone line -- but AW is the first firm to allow medical professionals to see the people they're helping.

The American Well program will allow patients in 44 different U.S. states to connect with doctors.

10-Minute Chat Costs Less Than Fifty Bucks

American Well says a ten-minute video chat will cost $49. Patients whose sessions run over time by less than five minutes may have the extra cost waived, depending on their health insurance situation. (Source:

The doctors working with the American Well program are employed by the Online Care Group (OCG), which specializes in telemedicine. The group currently employs 45 full-time doctors and more than 100 contract physicians.

The firm is also getting ready to expand, with an additional 100 doctors going through the vetting process right now.

OCG medical director Dr. Peter Antall says the program offers a unique opportunity to bring quality healthcare to more Americans.

"We really feel we're developing a whole new way of practicing medicine, and it's exciting," Antall said.

Doctors Confident Idea Will Stick

Antall says he recognizes that the system might seem strange or even vulnerable for a little while -- but believes that, in the long run, people will come around to the idea.

"Patients do have to get comfortable with this, but I remember a time where we were worried about electronic banking, and we got over that," Antall said.

"Maybe it isn't perfect, but it is as close as it could be, and there are mechanisms in place to deal with potential security breaches." (Source:

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