Best telemedicine in 2023: Benefits for patients and professionals

Telemedicine is a method of providing medical care remotely, usually through video chat. Telemedicine offers a range of benefits for both patients and healthcare providers.

A quick look at some of the best telemedicine providers

It is possible to access a wide range of care options through telemedicine services, including primary care consultations, psychotherapy, physical therapy, and even some emergency services.

Read on to learn more about the benefits and disadvantages of telemedicine.

What is telemedicine? 

Telemedicine offers healthcare using digital devices such as computers and smartphones. In most cases, telemedicine uses video conferencing. However, some providers choose to offer care via email or phone messaging.

Many people use telemedicine with their usual healthcare provider. Others access virtual care using a dedicated telemedicine app.

Doctors and patients can use telemedicine to:

  • assess whether or not the patient needs treatment in person
  • provide certain kinds of medical care, such as mental health treatment and assessments for minor infections
  • write or renew prescriptions
  • offer certain types of therapy, such as speech and physical therapy

Telemedicine is useful in situations where the patient must practice physical distancing or is unable to attend a healthcare facility in person.

How we chose

Medical News Today chooses telemedicine providers based on the following criteria:

  • Care: Providers that offer a range of care, such as urgent, primary, and mental health.
  • Cost: Providers that offer care suitable for a range of budgets.
  • Insurance: Providers that accept insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Prescriptions: Providers that offer prescriptions and allow people to pick up medication at a convenient pharmacy.
  • Accessibility: Providers that offer accessibility options, such as apps and different language options.

Best telemedicine for 2023

There are several telemedicine providers a person may choose. People may wish to ensure that the provider takes their insurance if applicable and covers the kind of care they need.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for different specialties: Amwell

Amwell against a light red background.
  • Price: from $79 per visit
  • Specialty: urgent care, therapy, psychiatry, and online specialists
  • Prescriptions: sends to a local pharmacy
  • Service delivery: video call

Amwell offers a 24-hour service for urgent care, therapy, and psychiatry, alongside access to online specialists. These specialties include pediatric care, menopause care, pregnancy and postpartum care, and nutrition counseling.

The service states that common conditions it treats include:

Amwell offers its services over video calls. People can either create a free account on the company’s website or download the app from the App Store or Google Play.

Once a person has created an account, they can browse the available healthcare professionals on the platform.

The service accepts insurance from over 100 insurance companies. It offers a full list of providers on its website. However, Amwell states that insurance only covers urgent care.

Amwell also accepts people without insurance, however, people without insurance may pay more for its services.


  • accepts insurance from a range of providers
  • people without insurance can use this service
  • sends prescriptions to local pharmacies for pickup
  • offers a range of specialties for most health concerns
  • healthcare professionals are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in all 50 states


  • insurance only covers urgent care on this platform


Best for membership options: Sesame Care

Sesame Care against a pale red background.
  • Price: from $19 with membership or from $39 for a one-time visit
  • Specialty: primary care, OB/GYN, dermatology, pediatrics, dentistry, urology, radiology, gastroenterology, and cardiology
  • Prescriptions: sends to a local pharmacy or home address
  • Service delivery: video call and in-person visit

Sesame Care offers access to healthcare professionals for a range of concerns, including:

People can view the profiles of healthcare professionals on this platform. These profiles show each person’s ratings, specialties, available appointments, and the price of the appointment. People can choose between telehealth and in-person visits.

Many healthcare professionals on this platform offer same-day appointments. This may benefit people who require more urgent advice.

The healthcare professionals may prescribe medication. Sesame Care states that medication from its platform starts from as little as $5.

Sesame Care offers two care options: Sesame Plus Membership, and one-time visits. People who opt for membership pay less for each visit and can benefit from visit discounts and free labs. Membership costs $8.25 per month.

The service provides people with a bill to present to their insurance provider for reimbursement, if applicable. People can pay for their prescriptions at a local pharmacy with their insurance. Sesame Care also accepts HSA and FSA payments for visits and prescriptions.


  • offers membership options that may save costs in the long term
  • people can choose their doctor
  • same-day appointments available


  • does not offer immunizations or workers comp paperwork
  • does not take insurance
  • does not currently have a phone app


Best for Spanish speakers: LiveHealth Online

LiveHealth Online against a pale red background.
  • Price: around $59 per visit
  • Specialty: primary care, psychology, psychiatry, and allergy
  • Prescriptions: sends to a local pharmacy
  • Service delivery: video call

LiveHealth Online offers telehealth appointments costing around $59 per visit. People who have insurance may pay less.

This service states that common conditions it treats include:

People can choose which healthcare professional they would like to see. Additionally, LiveHealth Online offers Cuidado Médico, which allows people to interact with the LiveHealth Online app in Spanish and visit a Spanish-speaking doctor.

To use Cuidado Médico, a person must set their phone or tablet to Spanish, open up the LiveHealth Online app, and select ‘Cuidado Médico’.

Spanish-speaking healthcare professionals are available 7 days a week from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. Same-day appointments are available in most states.

People can download the LiveHealth Online app on the App Store or Google Play.


  • offers a Spanish language app and Spanish-speaking doctors
  • accepts insurance, and most credit and debit cards
  • offers a dedicated prescription support team


Learn where to get birth control online here.


Best for a free trial: PlushCare

PlushCare against a pale red background.
  • Price: $129 for a first visit and $69 for repeat visits
  • Specialty: general health, urgent care, mental health, online therapy, and sexual health
  • Prescriptions: sends to a local pharmacy
  • Service delivery: video call

PlushCare requires a membership to use. Membership costs $14.99 per month or $99 per year. The service charges a co-pay for a first visit from people who have insurance, whereas those who are uninsured will need to pay $129.

PlushCare’s membership provides people with unlimited in-app messaging, an online care team, and online same-day appointment booking.

The service offers a 30-day free trial. Additionally, it claims that if one of its healthcare professionals cannot treat a condition or provide care, it will refund the cost of the appointment.

Some conditions PlushCare treats include:

PlushCare has an app that is available to download from the App Store and Google Play.


  • accepts most insurance plans
  • offers a 30-day membership free trial
  • offers a care guarantee or refund


  • requires a monthly subscription to use

Best for quick care: Virtuwell

Virtuwell against a pale red background.
  • Price: around $59 per visit
  • Specialty: sinus, cough and allergy, women’s health, kid’s health, eye and ear, sexual health, flu, skin and rashes, chronic, and preventive
  • Prescriptions: sends to a local pharmacy
  • Service delivery: online form

Unlike most other telemedicine providers, Virtuwell does not offer a video call with healthcare professionals. Instead, people fill in an online form, and board certified nurse practitioners review the answers and provide a treatment plan within an hour.

This service treats conditions such as:

Virtuwell states that, while it accepts insurance, people with or without insurance will never pay more than $59 per visit.


  • offers a satisfaction guarantee
  • accepts various insurance plans
  • no need for a video call


  • doctors do not review the online forms
  • may not be able to treat all health concerns


Best for Medicare recipients: Doctor On Demand

Doctor On Demand against a pale red background.
  • Price: free, or from $79 per visit
  • Specialty: urgent care, mental health, preventive care, and chronic care
  • Prescriptions: sends to a local pharmacy
  • Service delivery: video call

Doctor on Demand states that people who qualify for Medicare Part B do not need to pay for co-pays for urgent and everyday care video calls.

People who do not receive coverage from Medicare Part B will need to pay $79 for a 15-minute consultation with a board certified clinician. Other insurance plans may make the costs of this service vary.

The service treats conditions such as:

People can choose any doctor from the platform if they wish to make an appointment. People can continue to see the same doctor or choose another at any time.

However, if a person requires urgent care, the platform will connect them with the next available healthcare professional.


  • visits may be free under Medicare Part B and other insurance plans
  • can choose or change doctors easily
  • can share visit notes with a person’s primary care provider


  • can be expensive without insurance
  • cannot choose a healthcare professional for urgent care
  • clinician visits are only 15 minutes long.


Best for multi-issue visits: Walmart Health Virtual Care (formerly MeMD)

Walmart Health Virtual Care (formerly MeMD) against a pale red background.
  • Price: from $67 per visit
  • Specialty: primary care, COVID-19, urgent care, men’s and women’s health, talk and teen therapy, and psychiatry
  • Prescriptions: sends to a local pharmacy
  • Service delivery: Video or phone

Walmart Health Virtual Care offers treatment for a range of conditions, such as:

The service states that, in some states, the healthcare professionals on this platform will offer phone consultations rather than video calls. However, in several states, the law requires video consultations.

Walmart Health Virtual Care says that people can ask the healthcare professional they connect with about more than one issue per visit. However, it is at the healthcare professional’s discretion whether they feel comfortable addressing both concerns in one visit.

The service takes HSA, FSA, and HRA payments.


  • some states may offer phone consultations
  • can address several concerns in one visit
  • offers employer discounts



Best for visiting the same doctor: HealthTap

HealthTap against a pale red background.
  • Price: from $39 per visit
  • Specialty: health for all ages and genders, wellness and lifestyle, sexual health, mental health, travel medicine, and urgent care
  • Prescriptions: sends to a local pharmacy
  • Service delivery: video call and text

HealthTap aims to give people an ongoing relationship with one healthcare professional, connecting people to the same doctor each time.

This is a subscription service. People must pay $15 per month, which the company bills every three months. Primary care visits cost $39, and urgent care costs $59. People may pay with their insurance copay instead. People can text their healthcare professional at any time after an initial video call consultation.

HealthTap treats many concerns, including:

The service states that it will offer people coupons if they require a prescription. HealthTap claims it can save people up to 75% of the cash price of the medication.

HealthTap is also available as an app on the App Store or Google Play.


  • can communicate with the same doctor at any time
  • accepts insurance
  • can offer discounts of up to 75% on prescriptions


  • requires a subscription


Best for child mental health services: MDLive

MDLive against a pale red background.
  • Price: from $82 per visit with no insurance
  • Specialty: urgent care, primary care, mental health, and dermatology
  • Prescriptions: sends to a local pharmacy
  • Service delivery: video call

MDLive offers urgent and general care, as well as services for mental health and dermatology. Some concerns it treats include:

MDLive also offers mental health services to children over 10 years of age.

To use this service, people must first create a free account. People can search MDLive’s database for a healthcare professional they wish to connect with. The service states that people can receive a consultation in as little as 15 minutes.

MDLive accepts insurance and states that people may be able to access its services for free, depending on their insurance policy.

The company has an app that is available to download on the App Store and Google Play.


  • can choose which healthcare professional to connect to
  • offers mental health services to children
  • accepts insurance
  • does not require a subscription


  • can be expensive without insurance


Best for referrals: Teladoc

Teladoc against a pale red background.
  • Price: around $75 per visit
  • Specialty: primary care, mental health, condition management, nutrition, dermatology, and sexual health
  • Prescriptions: sends to a local pharmacy
  • Service delivery: video call

Teladoc treats several concerns such as:

Additionally, the service states that its healthcare professionals will refer people to specialists, surgeons, or in-person visits when necessary.

People may be able to request a specific doctor depending on their benefits plan.

Teladoc states that it works with Medicare Advantage and Medicaid plans, however, a person must contact their provider to ensure it will cover the costs of this service. The company also says it works with most insurance companies.

The company states it accepts all major cards and PayPal.

Telemedicine provider comparison

The following table compares the telemedicine providers in this article on price, specialty, and more.

PriceSpecialtyPrescriptionsService delivery
Amwellfrom $79 per visit• urgent care
• therapy
• psychiatry
• online specialists
local pharmacyvideo call
• from $19 with a membership
• from $39 for a one-time visit
• primary care
• dermatology
• pediatrics
• dentistry
• urology
• radiology
• gastroenterology
• cardiology
• local pharmacy
• home address
• video call
• in person
around $59 per visit• primary care
• psychology
• psychiatry
• allergy
local pharmacyvideo call
Plushcare• $129 for a first visit
• $69 for repeat visits
• general health
• urgent care
• mental health
• online therapy
• sexual health
local pharmacyvideo call
Virtuwellaround $59 per visit• sinus, cough & allergy
• women’s health
• kid’s health
• eye and ear
• sexual health
• flu
• skin and rashes
• chronic
• preventive
local pharmacyonline form
free or from $79 per visit• urgent care
• mental health
• preventive care
• chronic care
local pharmacyvideo call
from $67 per visit• primary care
• COVID-19
• urgent care
• men’s health
• women’s health
• talk therapy
• teen therapy
• psychiatry
local pharmacy• video call
• phone call
HealthTapfrom $39 per visit• children’s health
• women’s health
• men’s health
• senior’s health
• wellness and lifestyle
• sexual health
• mental health
• travel medicine
• urgent care
local pharmacy• video call
• text
MDLivefrom $82 per visit• urgent care
• primary care
• mental health
• dermatology
local pharmacyvideo call
Teladocaround $75 per visit• primary care
• mental health
• chronic conditions
• nutrition
• dermatology
• sexual health
local pharmacyvideo call

What to look for in a telemedicine provider

A person should consider the following when looking for a telemedicine provider:

  • Specialties: A person should consider what they may mostly need a telemedicine provider for and ensure they offer this service. For example, if a person wishes to use this for children, they should ensure the service offers pediatric care.
  • Insurance: In order to get the best price, people should find out which providers accept their health insurance plans. Additionally, people should check if their employer offers discounts to any particular telemedicine provider.
  • Prescriptions: If a person knows they need prescriptions, they should ensure their chosen provider offers this service. Some companies may offer to mail prescriptions directly to a customer’s home.
  • Communication: If people would rather communicate via the phone than a video call, they should ensure they choose a service that offers this. Additionally, some may allow for text conversations or email communication.
  • Doctor choice: People who wish to choose which healthcare professional they connect with should choose a service that offers this feature.


Research generally finds that telemedicine works, even for serious medical conditions.

For example, a 2017 meta-analysis and systematic review of the use of telemedicine for treating chronic heart failure found benefits. These included lower admission rates, shorter hospital stays, and fewer deaths.

The sections below will discuss some of the possible benefits for patients and healthcare providers.

Benefits for patients

Telemedicine can help treat a range of medical conditions. It is most successful when a person seeks care from a qualified physician and provides clear details about their symptoms.

Some other benefits of telemedicine include:

  • Lower costs: Some research suggests that people who use telemedicine spend less time in the hospital, providing cost savings. Also, less commuting time may mean fewer secondary expenses, such as childcare and gas.
  • Improved access to care: Telemedicine improves access to careTrusted Source for people with disabilities. It can also improve access for other populations, including older adults, people who are geographically isolated, and those who are incarcerated.
  • Preventive care: Telemedicine may make it easier for people to access preventive care that improves their long-term health. This is especially true for people with financial or geographic barriers to quality care. For instance, a 2021 review found that preventative telehealth services were effective for older people in high income countries. They say these services need improvement in low and low-middle income countries.
  • Convenience: Telemedicine allows people to access care in the comfort and privacy of their own home. This may mean that a person does not have to take time off of work or arrange childcare.
  • Slowing the spread of infection: Going to the doctor’s office means being around people who may be sick, often in close quarters. This can be particularly dangerous for people with underlying conditions or weak immune systems. Telemedicine minimizes the riskTrusted Source of picking up an infection at the doctor’s office.

Benefits for healthcare providers

Healthcare providers who offer telemedicine services may gain several benefits, including:

  • Reduced overhead expenses: Providers who offer telemedicine services may incur fewer overhead costs. For example, they may pay less for front desk support or be able to invest in an office space with fewer exam rooms.
  • Additional revenue stream: Clinicians may find that telemedicine supplements their income because it allows them to provide care to more patients.
  • Less exposure to illness and infections: When providers see patients remotely, they do not have to worry about exposure to any pathogens the patient may carry.
  • Patient satisfaction: When a patient does not have to travel to the office or wait for care, they may be happier with their provider, which improves patient satisfaction.


However, telemedicine may not suit every person or situation. There are some potential disadvantages when using telemedicine over traditional care methods.

The following sections look at some disadvantages for patients and healthcare providers.

Disadvantages for patients

Telemedicine is not a good fit for all patients. Some drawbacks of this type of care include:

  • Insurance coverage: Not all insurers cover telemedicine. Only 26 states currently require insurers to cover or reimburse the costs of telemedicine. However, these laws are constantly changing.
  • Protecting medical data: Telemedicine can present challenges in protecting medical data. Hackers and other criminals may be able to access a patient’s medical data, especially if the patient accesses telemedicine on a public network or via an unencrypted channel.
  • Care delays: When a person needs emergency care, accessing telemedicine first may delay treatment, particularly since a doctor cannot provide lifesaving care or laboratory tests digitally.

Disadvantages for healthcare professionals

Healthcare professionals may also face some drawbacks associated with telemedicine, including:

  • Licensing issues: Healthcare professionals may experience licensing issues. State laws vary, and clinicians may not be able to practice medicine across state lines, depending on the state in which they hold their license and the state in which the patient lives.
  • Technological concerns: Finding the right digital platform to use can be challenging. Also, a weak connection can make it difficult to offer quality care. Clinicians must also ensure that the telemedicine program they use is secure and fully compliant with privacy laws.
  • An inability to examine patients: Healthcare professionals must rely on patient self-reports during telemedicine sessions. This may require clinicians to ask more questions to ensure that they get a comprehensive health history. If a patient leaves out an important symptom that might have been noticeable during in-person care, this can compromise treatment.

When is telemedicine useful? 

Telemedicine works well for any condition that does not require laboratory tests or a physical examination. Telemedicine can even offer some forms of ongoing care, such as psychotherapy.

When there are barriers to treatment — such as the COVID-19 pandemic, a patient who lives far away from a medical care facility, or a patient who cannot transport themselves — providers may expand the list of conditions they are willing to treat. For instance, a doctor might prescribe antibiotics for a likely infection via telemedicine.

Frequently asked questions about telemedicine

Here we answer some common questions about these services.

What does telemedicine exclude?

This varies between providers. Not all telemedicine providers will provide psychiatry or talking therapy services.

Many services allow healthcare professionals to send prescriptions to a nominated pharmacy. However, many will have restrictions on what they can prescribe, such as controlled substances, which can lead to misuse and dependency.

Who is the largest telemedicine provider?

Some of the largest telemedicine providers include Teladoc, Amwell, MDLive, and Doctor on Demand.

Does telemedicine take insurance?

Most telemedicine services accept insurance. Services should advertise whether they accept insurance on their websites.

People should always check with their insurance provider to ensure the telemedicine company they choose has in-network doctors.


Telemedicine is a convenient option for people who cannot go to the doctor’s office and those who prefer to stay home. However, it is important that patients check the credentials of the doctor providing care.

For people with anxiety about leaving the house, chronic medical conditions that make catching infections dangerous, and contagious diseases, remote care may mean the difference between prompt treatment and no treatment at all.


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