American Well unveils a new service that connects consumers directly to physicians through their mobile devices for advice — and sometimes even for diagnoses and prescriptions.
When Dr. Teresa Myers took a call from a woman who thought she’d gotten strep throat right smack in the middle of an important business trip, the Akron, Ohio-based family medicine physician who loves telemedicine so much she actually does it in her spare time didn’t mean to scream.
But when the patient — hoping a doc could diagnose her problem via her iPhone camera so that she could get a prescription without going to an ER — pointed her phone’s flashlight toward the back of her throat, Myers couldn’t restrain herself.
“Oh my God!” she yelled. “You’ve got exudate!” To which the patient yelled back, “What does that mean?” (Dr. Myers explained that it’s the white discharge often visible on one’s tonsils when they have the highly contagious strep, and that she had yelled because she’d never expected to see it so clearly during a phone visit.)
“That was probably the most rewarding 10 minutes,” said Myers, who was able to do an exam, make a diagnosis, and write a prescription in 10 minutes.
Myers is among a growing group of physicians in the US practicing telemedicine. She currently works with the Online Care Group, which manages telemedicine physicians for American Well, which this week announced the introduction of $49 10-minute video chats with doctors online and via mobile phones and tablets in 44 states and Washington, D.C.