Virtual doctor visits: A new kind of house call

A doctor shows up on your computer or smartphone, not your doorstep. Should you try it?

Published: September, 2016

virtual doctor visits
Image: AndreyPopov/ Thinkstock

Getting a doctor's advice no longer requires a visit to the exam room. Thanks to videoconferencing applications (apps) for smartphones, tablets, and home computers, you can experience a virtual visit with a physician at any time, day or night. "The convenience factor is striking. You're home sick, and 24/7 you can see a doctor on your electronics," explains Dr. Ateev Mehrotra, an internist and a Harvard Medical School researcher who studies new ways of delivering health care.

Not just a fad

Virtual visits are part of the trend toward making health care more convenient, and they're already popular. "We can conservatively estimate that there will be at least a million virtual doctor visits in 2016," says Dr. Mehrotra.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »