Physician chatting apps are becoming more and more popular. But should you use them? Health's resident medical editor weighs in.
Credit: Aad Goudappel

There are a bunch of "telemedicine" apps available now that give you access to quality MDs. But should you be using them? These platforms could come in handy in a pinch if you can’t reach your doctor and want to talk through a health question with a medical professional ASAP. But generally speaking, I still recommend an in-person visit. You’ll get the most informed advice from a doctor who knows you and your health history. Also, simply talking about your symptoms or sending a photo does not tend to measure up to having a doctor give you a physical exam.

If you choose to try one of these apps, vet the app and the doctor through online research and user reviews. Then really consider whether the health issue you’re dealing with is suited for e-communication only. If you’re just hoping to refill an Rx you forgot about right before vacation, then it might make sense. But if you’re having symptoms that may require a hands-on examination or a particular test (like if you have a cough that won’t go away), don’t settle for a video chat.

Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.