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Online doctor service launches

2nd.MD allows users from anywhere in the world to get consultation from medical specialists

The 2nd.MD service is intended to give people better access to medical specialists.
The 2nd.MD service is intended to give people better access to medical specialists.

A new web-based remote doctor service has launched in the US, to offer users around the world access to highly qualified specialists across a wide range of specialities from spinal surgery to emergency medicine and dermatology.

Users who access the site can search for a doctor by specialty, or their disease name, symptoms, or by procedure type, and then have a phone or online consultation with a relevant specialist.

According to 2nd.MD, the service that offers direct access to doctors in 12 of the top 17 medical institutions in the US, including Harvard, Yale and Boston Children's Hospital.

Doctor profiles are available for users to browse, and users can book an appointment with the doctor and either speak to them over the phone or via an in-built Skype-type service.

Although most of the doctors on the website only speak English, it is possible for users to request a translator to sit in on the session, to make the service accessible to non-English speakers.

"We have a translation company that is in place for the clients. All they have to do is request translation service while booking the appointment and the translator will be available for their session. If the client has a doctor that they would like to sit in on the conversation, they are more than welcome to invite them. Our video chat holds up to four people at a time. We have set this up so if the client wants to include a translator and a family member or their personal doctor, they can do so," Melissa Sawa, 2nd.MD director of operations told ITP.net.

A copy of the doctor's notes will also be made available to the client after the session and if the client is using the video calling service and the connection is lost, the specialist will immediately call the client on the phone number provided.

"We have created this as a backup in case something happens with the connection. This will also help those that may not have a camera or whose connection is slow," said Sawa.

The company recommends that clients have a standard DSL or cable line with a minimum upload and download speed of 160kb. However, if the internet speed is slower than this, doctors can call the client on a land or mobile phone line.

Appointments run for a period of 20 minutes and prices range from $80 to $200 and above, depending on the doctor and their experience and specialty.

"The reason we decided to have the sessions be 20 minutes, is because research has shown when an individual sees a specialist, by the time they go through the preliminary paperwork and checkups, the average time is between 4-6 minutes. We wanted to give them four times the amount of time as well a chance to see if the doctor is a good fit. They can book as many sessions as they want. If after seeing a specific specialist, they feel they need more time, they can ask the specialist to open two consecutive slots so they can have an additional 40 minutes of time with them," said Sawa.

The specialists do not prescribe medicine or order tests, but can ask the individual to have tests done and request a follow-up session so that the specialist can view the test results or lab work.

If the client has had any tests done prior to the appointment they can upload any medical file, such as a CAT scan or x-ray, close up shots of the specific body region, or blood work as they are booking the session.

"We actually recommend they have this done prior to speaking to the specialist if possible so the specialist can help diagnose and answer their questions," said Sawa.

Clients can pay either by credit card or by PayPal for those people who do not have a credit card, or whose credit card may not be accepted in the US because of country restrictions.