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That includes colds, coughs, rashes, diarrhea, allergies, and other problems.Though the number of companies offering such services is not clear, the American Telemedicine Association estimates that as many as 500,000 patients will see a doctor via webcam this year, and that number is rising.The consulting firm Deloitte predicted in August that out of an average 600 million general practitioner appointments in the U. and Canada this year, up to 75 million could be e-visits.

Besides convenience, other reasons may explain the rise in e-visit demand. Teladoc reports on its web site that without remote doctor visits or teleconferencing, patients say they would have gone to an emergency room, urgent care clinic, or seen a primary care doctor or specialist -- all pricier options.“Clearly, we still have a ways to go,” Linkous says.Right now, most users include professionals working for companies that pay for the service, he says.An August HIMSS Analytics report found that 46% of more than 400 hospitals and doctor practices surveyed reported already using some form of telemedicine, most commonly videoconferencing.

Dozens of hospitals and insurers are embracing it, with the number growing rapidly.Your insurance company may reimburse you for the cost.