If you're tired of having to wait in urgent care waiting rooms for hours, surrounded by people with potentially contagious diseases -- or if you just don't want to inflict whatever you might have on other people -- the return of the housecall should be a welcome event. But even then, a doctor's visit can be difficult due to entirely practical reasons. One option is a virtual house call, where no one actually visits you. These have raised some concerns but have proven to be popular for basic issues. Which one you choose depends on what you want to get out of the appointment.

Chronic Problems

Sometimes you know the symptoms you're experiencing well because they signal the return of a chronic problem, and all you need is a prescription refill. That's something that your doctor's office might be able to handle over the phone, but if the problem occurs over the weekend, you might not want to wait. Rather than sitting for several hours in urgent care, or paying a lot to have a doctor come out, a telemedicine session where you chat via video with a doctor could be more convenient.

However, a video chat may be inappropriate if the symptoms seem particularly severe, if the symptoms signal that something worse may be lurking, or if the treatment would require antibiotics. For example, if you've had a bladder infection before and are experiencing the exact same symptoms now, a virtual chat would not be the right way to get treatment. A doctor would need to see you in person to get a urine sample, and thanks to portable test kits, a doctor making an in-person urgent care house call could actually diagnose an infection at your home. Without the test, the doctor has no idea if you actually have another infection or if your bladder pain is a sign of interstitial cystitis, a condition that is not treated by antibiotics.

Parking Problems

If you live in an area with limited parking, the video chat may be best at least as an initial consult. If the doctor can't park within a reasonable walking distance, an in-home call would be rather difficult. Through a video chat, a doctor can see redness, obvious swelling, and other problems, and if it turns out you do need to see a doctor in person, then you can work that out. But the video chat can at least take care of more minor calls.

Jumping-off Point

Video chats work when you just have no idea what's going on and want a jumping-off point. If you're experiencing strange symptoms, the initial call can point you in a direction, be it one where a doctor will come out to visit you, where you have to go see a specialist in-office, or where you just have to sit and wait something out, like a virus.

Comfort Level

With advances in technology, remote doctors can diagnose a lot via video. But some patients still prefer to see a doctor in person, and an in-home house call is one of the best ways to do this. The patient can talk to someone face-to-face, and the doctor can see physical symptoms that might not register over a webcam, like swollen lymph nodes.

If you need to see a doctor and would prefer to avoid a waiting room, contact a house call company as soon as you can. The company can let you know if a video chat is an option, and if you want to see someone in person, they can arrange for that appointment immediately.