Thank you to 2nd.MD for providing me with a $200 stipend to test-drive this revolutionary online medical service.
Many years ago it was common for doctors to make housecalls to provide medical care to their patients. No waiting in a crowded waiting room for what seems like an eternity when you are sick. No getting exposed to everyone else’s germs in that waiting room. You didn’t even have to leave your bed if you felt too sick to do so. The doctor would come to you and give you personalized, one-on-one attention, and usually could spend as much time as you needed. In this day and age of busy doctors’ offices full of patients waiting to be seen and a doctor who is rushing from one to another, wouldn’t it be nice to go back to the olden days of housecalls? I think so! And so does a new company who has recently launched the digital age’s answer to the old-fashioned housecall – 2nd.MD.
2nd.MD is a new site (still in Beta) that connects patients with specialists all over the country via video chat for a consultation. The service currently has several doctors of a variety of specialties available and are adding more doctors frequently. A search feature is available to help you choose a doctor for your condition or needs. Each doctor sets their own fee for a consultation based on their expertise, specialty, and the demand for that specialty. The rates are currently between $80-$400 for a 20 minute appointment session with most doctors charging approximately $200. If you are not sure which doctor is right for you, 2nd.MD allows you to ask a doctor a free question to help determine if he/she is right for you. So you could ask a few different doctors and then decide on one before having to pay a fee. Also, if the doctor you choose does not have any appointments open that are convenient for you, you can put in a request to make more appointments available and give some preferred days and times. 2nd.MD and the doctor will try to arrange an appointment date and time that works best for your schedule and the doctor’s schedule.
For this review, I chose a doctor who specializes in dermatology to consult with regarding some sun damage or hyperpigmentation on my face. I have tried over the counter skin brightening products but have not had much luck with those and wanted to find out other options for lightening or removing the sun spots. Signing up for the service was easy and so was finding a doctor and scheduling the appointment. There was some confusion on their end about the time zones (I’m on Central Time and the doctor is on Pacific Time) but they caught their mistake and let me know in plenty of time to reschedule our appointment and were very helpful in coordinating that with the doctor.
The doctor I chose was Dr. Boris Zaks, a prominent Beverly Hills dermatologist. The session fee was $159 for 20 minutes. 2nd.MD has an area where you can upload important medical history and reports, test results, and images so the doctor can check those out before the appointment. Before my appointment, I uploaded a photo of my sun spots. I didn’t upload any other medical documents or reports because I have not consulted a doctor about it before so I did not have anything else pertinent to the consultation to upload.
Prior to your appointment, 2nd.MD offers you the chance to test out your equipment (webcam and headset or microphone) with their service to make sure everything is set properly. They also offer you the ability to schedule a test appointment with one of the 2nd.MD employees to show you how the appointment screen looks and works and test all the settings. I did test my equipment and made sure it all worked with the service. I did not do a test appointment because I did not see that was offered until right before my real appointment. When you log in for your appointment, the screen shows a countdown to your appointment:
Close to the appointment time, your screen will tell you that you are in the “waiting lobby” and the countdown will continue until the appointment begins. Then the screen will change to show the doctor on his/her webcam with you on your webcam in a smaller box down towards the bottom of the screen. For my appointment, there was a glitch that kept me in the waiting lobby with the countdown changing to showing how much time was left during the appointment. I refreshed the page to see if it would take me to the correct page but it did not. I was beginning to wonder if there was a problem with the doctor on his end getting logged in or if he may have been delayed or forgotten. Within less than 5 minutes, I had a phone call from customer service and they said the doctor was waiting for me to log in. I told them what was showing on my computer and they walked me through getting out of the lobby and into the actual appointment. There must have been a glitch on their end but we quickly resolved it and it did not adversely affect my appointment. When a site is in beta, and especially one using video chat features, there are bound to be some kinks that need to be worked out before the full launch of the service.
Dr. Zaks was very knowledgeable about my skin condition and treatment options. He asked me several questions to make sure he had all the info. he needed to recommend the best treatments for my particular case. He outlined a few options, including prescription creams, chemical peels, and laser treatments and gave me the pros and cons of each and approximate cost for each. I tried to take a screen shot of our actual session to show you but when I opened the file later, it had captured only my webcam control screen and not the actual screen shot of me and the doctor talking. After our appointment, Dr. Zaks sent me the notes of our session, including his recommendations for treatment options. This is a valuable service feature provided by 2nd.MD because patients often leave a doctors appointment overwhelmed with information and unfamiliar medical terms and drug names and can easily forget all that the doctor said. I highly recommend taking notes when you consult with a doctor in person or via 2nd.MD but it is great to know that on their site they do that for you.
As a nurse, when I first learned of 2nd.MD I was intrigued and could not wait to check it out for myself to see if it is a service that would be beneficial for all of you. I could not recommend it without trying it first and now that I have, I think it is a valuable and worthwhile service to use if you would like to consult with a specialist, especially for a 2nd or 3rd opinion, or have a condition that you are not sure about whether you really need to go see a doctor for in person. It could also be a time and money saver for someone who needs to consult with a specialist that they do not have access to in their own city, since you would not have to travel to meet with him or her. It is not a service for any condition that requires an in-person physical exam or for any type of emergency or urgent condition that requires quick medical treatment. 2nd.MD doctors are providing consultation services only, so keep that in mind too. That means there is no diagnosing, no prescribing, and no treatment. They are providing information, expert opinions based on talking with you and evaluating your medical history and any reports or results you provide them with, and they can tell you treatment options and recommendations. They can also tell you what to expect if you were to choose to make an in-person appointment at their office, if you are interested in that option after your session.
Another important point to consider, insurance does not cover 2nd.MD consultations, so you will have to pay the fee out-of-pocket if you choose to use it. I do think it is possible that as this service grows, insurance companies might look into covering the consultations but for now, it is private pay only.
If you are interested in finding out more about 2nd.MD and whether it could help you, here’s a video to tell you more:
If you use the service, I would love to hear your opinion and thoughts about it afterwards. I really think that this is a big step for the future of medicine. We may not have in-person housecalls anymore (well, not unless you have the money to afford your own physician on retainer service) but now we can have the next best thing.
Thank you again to 2nd.MD for sponsoring this blog post. Please click here to learn more about 2nd.MD. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions are my own. #Clever2ndMD #spon