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Online doctor visits

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As winter drags on and sickness continues to send many of us to the doctor, house calls are going high tech. Hundreds of thousands of patients are now seeing their doctors on-line. CBS 19's Amanda Roberson has more on this growing trend.  

A sinus infection or cold can make rolling out bed, putting on  clothes, and driving to the doctor seem next to impossible. That's why many people are turning to online doctors for help, but some doctors say you need to think twice.

Pam Ragland knew it was time to see a doctor. "I had this just debilitating headache and it felt like it was connected to my sinuses."

But instead of taking a trip to the doctor's office, she logged onto her computer at home. After less than 15 minutes in a "virtual waiting room"  she was connected to Dr. Moses Nasser at memd.me.

More and more patients are talking with doctors electronically. Last year, about 400,000 people used online medical services last year.

"Doctors don't go to school for half their life because it's easy or because you can get online, do a Google search, and say 'yup, that's what you have'," explained Dr. Michelle Bosworth with UT Health Science Center in Tyler.

Dr. Bosworth encouraged people to do a little research before relying on just any online doctor, and always make sure the site follows health and safety laws. "If it wasn't a reputable site, or a reputable organization, they could certainly sell your information and then if you're having problems with obesity or diabetes then maybe you start getting all this information or magazines like junk mail."

But for Ragland, a working, single mother, seeing a doctor online was the right prescription. "First of all it saved me time, secondly it was way more convenient and it was immediate."

After going through Pam's history and symptoms, Dr. Moses determined she had a sinus infection. But, she'll still have to leave her house to pick up her medicine.

Virtual doctor visits cost about $45 and some insurance companies cover it. The visits are only recommended for patients with minor health problems like bites and stings, cough, sore throat or headaches.

Dr. Bosworth recommends WebMD, Family Doctor, Medscape, and Medline as safe websites to begin learning about your symptoms and possible illness.

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