It’s a Sunday evening and you’re sick as a dog, knowing already that you won’t be able to go into work the next morning. Your first thought is to make a trip to the emergency room, but you don’t feel well enough to get out and you certainly don’t want to spend hours in the waiting room for a non-life-threatening illness. You remember hearing about online doctor visits during your last open enrollment for health benefits, so you get out your health benefits packet and find the online doctor service your insurance will cover.

An online or virtual doctor provides on-demand care for most common minor illnesses no matter where you are or what time it is, and the process is relatively simple. First, you’ll need to set up an account with the online service with your basic information and medical history, then using your computer or mobile device, you can request either an audio or visual appointment. A board-certified medical provider will review your chart and medical history, and discuss your symptoms and treatment options with you. If medication is necessary, the doctor will send the prescription to your local pharmacy for pickup. You can view the details of your visit online through the patient dashboard on a 24/7 basis, and you can choose whether or not to share the results of your virtual visit with your primary physician.

Online doctors provide convenient medical care and can treat several common illnesses ranging from asthma to migraines to vomiting, and the cost is much cheaper than an emergency room visit or even a trip to the 24 hour urgent care center. Some plans even include the opportunity to discuss common mental health issues with a licensed therapist. However, if you’re dealing with a medical emergency, you still need to dial 911.

It is estimated that the telemedicine industry will reach $36.2 billion dollars in the year 2020. With 24/7 access, talking to real people, cheaper costs, no more spending hours in the waiting room, and complete privacy, it only makes sense to explore the telemedicine industry for your minor illnesses and primary care needs.