Doctor on Demand Online Therapy Review

Video conferencing therapy company is efficient but not inclusive

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Doctors on Demand
Verywell's Rating
3.0

Doctor on Demand is telehealth company that has expanded from 24/7 medical care to provide access to online therapy and medication management as well. We recommend Doctor on Demand for those whose insurance plans are accepted by the company; its out-of-pocket prices might be too steep for the uninsured.

VERYWELL MIND's 2021 ONLINE THERAPY AWARDS
  • Best Flexibility
  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Facts
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Accepts health insurance

  • Offers medical care, therapy, and medication management

  • Website is easy to navigate

  • Easy sign-up process

  • Live chats during the mornings or afternoons

  • Treats adults and teens alike

  • Sessions are 50 minutes

  • Out-of-pocket costs are more affordable than average

Cons
  • Expensive without insurance

  • No monthly subscription plans available

  • No free consultation options or discounts

  • Limited therapist availability

  • No option to message therapists between sessions

  • Not inclusive for nonbinary patients

  • No option to specify identity, race, or gender preferences for your therapist

Key Facts
Price
$129-$179 per session
Is Insurance Accepted?
Yes
Type Of Therapy
Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen Counseling
Communication Options
Audio, Video Chat
HIPAA Compliant?
N/A
Is There an App?
Yes
Why Trust Us
55
Companies reviewed
5,775
Total users surveyed
350
Data points analyzed
We surveyed 105 users from each online therapy company and asked the companies to complete questionnaires. Then, we tested the services ourselves, conducted comprehensive data collection research, and evaluated our results with the help of three licensed therapists.

For over a decade, telehealth services have been becoming more popular—especially post 2020 when, facing global lockdowns, people were forced to rely on the internet for medical and mental health care services. And online therapy, especially, is accessible and convenient, particularly to people with disabilities, people in therapy deserts, and people who don’t have easy access to transportation. So when Doctor on Demand, one of the largest and oldest telehealth companies in America, began offering online therapy, it was uniquely positioned as a company that could help make access to therapy even more convenient and accessible, especially since it is in network with dozens of health insurance providers. 

For this review, we surveyed 105 users who used Doctor on Demand and I also signed up for therapy services myself in order to test its services. We then evaluated the service against 54 other online therapy companies with the help of three licensed therapists. Here is how the company stacked up to the competition. 

What Is Doctor on Demand?

Doctor on Demand was founded in 2013 by Dr. Phil McGraw, his son Jay, and their business partner Adam Jackson first as an online medical company based out of San Francisco, California. Its goal was simple: Provide more accessible healthcare to everyone, and it did so by offering urgent care, preventative care, and chronic care via a telehealth platform. In May 2021, Doctor on Demand acquired Included Health, a leading telehealth resource for the LGBTQIA+ community, and is now officially known as “Doctor on Demand by Included Health.”

Since its inception, Doctor on Demand has expanded to also offer mental health care, which is what we focused on for this review.

What Services Does Doctor on Demand Offer?

In addition to its medical services, noted above, Doctor on Demand offers talk therapy for children and adults. It also offers medication management.

According to the company’s What We Treat page, its therapists can treat:

“It is telling to me that the company only lists a limited number of specialties,” says Amy Marschall, PsyD, licensed clinical psychologist and one of the experts that worked with us on this project. “Doctor on Demand isn’t claiming it can help with anything and everything, so I believe it actually cultivates expertise in the areas it promotes.”

How Much Does Doctor on Demand Cost?

Unlike some of the other therapy companies we reviewed, Doctor on Demand does not offer a monthly therapy subscription. Instead, you pay for services on a per-appointment basis. This is similar to how in-person therapy is traditionally billed. You can choose to pay for your therapy sessions via credit card, HSA, FSA, or PayPal. 

If you’re paying out of pocket, how much you pay depends on how long your therapy session is. A 25-minute therapy session is $129, and a 50-minute session is $179.

It’s worth noting that the system automatically signs you up for the 50-minute therapy session, as this is the recommended session length. You have to go into the system and change the length of the session if you want the 25-minute option instead. 

These prices are on the high side compared to similar telehealth companies, such as Teladoc (which charges up to $99 per therapy session without insurance) and MDLIVE (which charges $108 per session), and sit at the high end of the national average cost of therapy (which ranges from $60 to $200 per session). Since I couldn’t use insurance, my sessions were more expensive.

Psychiatry sessions cost $299 for a 45-minute initial appointment, and subsequent 15-minute follow-up sessions are $129 each. These prices are comparable to other telehealth companies.

Does Doctor on Demand Take Insurance?

Yes, Doctor on Demand reports in its FAQs that it “works with many employers and health insurance plans,” but a list of accepted insurance is not shown on the website. This information is only available once you’ve started the sign-up process and are prompted to select your insurance from a drop-down menu. The only other way to check if your insurance is accepted is to download Doctor on Demand’s app, but still, insurance information is only provided after you create an account. 

I wasn't able to find any information about which insurance Doctor on Demand accepts before I signed up. When you go to make an appointment you can select an option that says you're covered by insurance that Doctor on Demand takes, and it takes you to a drop-down menu that lists all the insurance it accepts. I was able to find Blue Cross Blue Shield on there, but not Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina (where I'm insured). I saw BCBS for many other states but mine,  so I was confused about whether the company took my insurance or not.

However, 58% of the user respondents we surveyed said they were able to pay for their sessions through their insurance provider, and 59% found the service affordable or very affordable. Compared to Teladoc’s 65% and MDLIVE’s 62% in this category, though, Doctor on Demand falters.

Does Doctor on Demand Offer Discounts?

Doctor on Demand does not offer any discounts or free consultations, unlike other similar telehealth and online therapy companies (who might offer consultations as part of a client-therapist matching service). 

Navigating Doctor on Demand’s Website

I found the Doctor on Demand website easy to use. It has a scrollable white and blue color-schemed homepage that shows different featured images depending on the season (for instance, in November 2022, there is a picture of a person lying in bed with the phrase “Is it the flu? Don’t wait to feel better” next to it in bold font). Underneath this text are options to “See a doctor now” or “Sign in.” 

Homepage

There are several prominent links at the top of the homepage to four different sections of the site: “What We Treat,” “Solutions,” “Medicare,” and “About Us.” From the “What We Treat” drop-down menu, you can select from four services: Urgent Care, Mental Health, Preventative Health, and Chronic Care. 

what we treat

The drop-down menu under “About Us” includes the site’s FAQs, a “Contact Us” page, and links to explanations of the cost of services and the company’s blog featuring articles on different health topics. For example, I was able to find articles on managing caregiver stress and how to nurture relationships. Most of the articles are written by the providers at Doctor on Demand, but a few are listed under the general “Doctor on Demand by Included Health” byline. The 30 or so most recent posts seem to have all been posted in the summer of 2022.

Under the Mental Health section in the “What We Treat” header, towards the bottom of the page are explanations of the conditions the company treats. Under the title “how we can help,” there is a short list: anxiety, depression, postpartum, relationships, trauma and loss, and screenings. You can click any of these topics for a more detailed explanation. For example, the Anxiety page lists an overview of what anxiety is, its symptoms, and how to manage and treat the condition. 

Anxiety

There is no way to see therapist profiles or bios from the website—you must sign up for services before you can view any therapist information.

The homepage is easy enough to access, but there is a lot on one page, so it may be overwhelming to some users. It’s also not the most accessible. I was not able to find an option to increase the text size, for example, nor was I able to put alternative text on images, or change the website to a language other than English—all accessibility features that were found on other company sites we reviewed. Despite this, 68% of Doctor on Demand users said that navigating the site was easy or very easy.

easy

Doctor on Demand has a fairly active presence on social media. It is mostly active on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook; its latest posts on LinkedIn and YouTube were 4 months ago. Most of its posts promote its blog and services. It does not interact with the public very often, except occasionally to respond to negative comments and offer customer service to assist with user complaints.

Does Doctor on Demand Have An App?

Yes, Doctor on Demand has an app available from the Apple Store or Google Play. You can use it to schedule your sessions and access your account information.

How Do You Sign Up for Therapy at Doctor on Demand?

On the homepage, there is an option that says "Start a Virtual Visit," where you go to sign up for your therapy appointment for the first time.

sign up

Once you click this button, you’ll be asked to fill out a form with some basic information about yourself in order to create your account, such as your email, date of birth, and password.

If you are under 18, you cannot create an account. Children under 18 must have their account created after their parent or legal guardian has an account. This parent or guardian must also be the person that carries the insurance benefits for their family. From your main account page, you can search to see if Doctor in Demand takes your insurance, or opt to pay for therapy out of pocket.

You then have the option to choose medical care or mental health care. If you choose mental health, you can choose to take a five-minute mental health assessment, with the warning that it is not a diagnostic tool. The assessment asks basic questions about your mental health. Most of my questions were related to depression and anxiety. For example, the depression screening asked how often in the last two weeks have I felt like I had "Little interest or pleasure in doing things" and I could answer "Not at all," "Several days," "more than half the days," or "Nearly everyday."

At the end of the questionnaire, a scale showed me how severe my depression and anxiety were, which was interesting to read. There was one scale for depression and one for anxiety, and it gives you a number and shows you where you are on the spectrum (from minimal, mild, moderate, to severe) based on that number. 

I do wish I had been asked questions about other mental health conditions the organization treats, like PTSD, since people often have multiple co-occurring mental health conditions

However, 61% of respondents did report that the process of looking for a therapist at Doctor on Demand was easy or very easy, and 78% were satisfied or very satisfied with the therapist options provided.

After signing up, you get access to a private portal, which includes information about past and upcoming appointments, your contact information, your payment information, and FAQs. This is also how you schedule sessions.

Choosing a Therapist at Doctor on Demand

After completing the questionnaire, you have to choose a therapist before you can schedule an appointment. You can choose an appointment for yourself or your dependent. (I do not have any dependents and wasn't able to see what it looked like if I added dependents, so I'm not sure if they see the same or a different therapist, or if you choose the therapist for your dependent.) 

You can either choose your therapist from the list of company therapists or have the system match you with a therapist. The list of therapists is on a giant scrolling page like the homepage, and each therapist has a bio under their name that you can click to expand to see more information about them. If you choose to let the system match you with a therapist, you’re asked a few questions in a questionnaire. The first set of questions ask you what kind of therapist you’re looking for, which is based on personality traits such as “calm” rather than demographical information such as gender, race, or religion. You can also say here that you are unsure what therapist you are looking for. 

You then select which condition you want your therapist to specialize in, which you can either search for or choose from its list of conditions treated. Doctor on Demand lists several conditions its therapists treat, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD. It also lists autism as a condition it treats, which it mentions under developmental disorders. I found this kind of categorization outdated since the term “neurodivergency” is common now among the autistic community (although autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, is still the official diagnostic term).

You can only pick one condition you want to treat, which I also found odd since it is possible to be diagnosed with multiple mental illnesses and issues at the same time. For example, it is common to have both a depressive disorder and an anxiety disorder.

After you answer these questions about what you’re looking for, the system brings up your results for therapists. 

Most of the therapists listed were licensed clinical counselors or social workers. Some therapists, but not all, mention their areas of expertise in their profiles, which you have to click on the bio to read. Additional information listed includes the university or college the therapist studied at to get their licenses, the therapist’s years of experience in the field, and the personalized way the therapist approaches therapy.

I noticed that most of the therapists were white, and I did not see any listed as LGBTQIA+ or allies. I also wasn’t able to choose a therapist based on race, sexuality, or any other identities, as the site never asked me for my preferences regarding the identity of my therapist. 

This was also something our user survey respondents noted. Only 29% were able to find a therapist who shared or had a similar background and culture to them. However, 49% of users reported that they found a therapist at Doctor on Demand who met all of their needs, which was the highest score in that category of all 55 companies we reviewed.

When you browse the list of therapists, you’re also able to see the therapists’ appointment availability as well. My options for therapists with availability were pretty limited, which made choosing a therapist difficult. I could not schedule a session with my first choice of therapist because her next available appointment wasn’t for another two weeks, and my second choice therapist only had one date available that worked with my schedule.

Once you choose an appointment from your therapist’s schedule, you’re asked to briefly explain your reason for seeking therapy. Once you fill that in, you’re asked to check which symptoms you have. You’re also asked if you’re on any medications, have allergies, or have been diagnosed with any conditions in the past that are listed.

How Do Therapy Sessions Work at Doctor on Demand?

All sessions through Doctor on Demand are video sessions; there is no option for a phone or messaging session, and there is no way to contact your therapist directly by text or email, even through the portal.

I was sent email reminders and phone reminders about my appointments (since I opted in for texts) and was sent a reminder as soon as I booked my first appointment. I was also sent an email and text message a half an hour before my appointment.

Video Sessions

My first therapy session was pretty routine, but helpful overall. The therapist asked some basic questions that confirmed what I had filled out on my profile, such as if I’m taking any medication. This took about 10 minutes. I spoke about the issues I was dealing with and the therapist gave me some coping strategies and treatment options. Specifically, for example, my therapist gave me breathing exercises to help calm down anxiety. She also explained how the amygdala works and goes into overdrive when you have anxiety, sending stress hormones to the body, and how I basically had to "talk" to the amygdala to tell it to calm down and that I'm not in danger.

There were some technical difficulties. I got a message saying that my connection was weak, and several times my therapist appeared blurry on screen or would break up during video chat. The session felt like it went on a bit long. My therapist was attentive and listened well, but repeated a lot of information I'd heard in therapy previously. So it was not as insightful, but that may have just been because I’ve had previous experiences in therapy. The session ended right at the mark, and I did get homework.

I would have liked the option to message my therapist instead of video conferencing. As an introvert with anxiety, I did not feel as comfortable speaking with my therapist via video sessions and would have liked to have had the option to confer with them using another, less involved method of communication. My internet was also unstable, and my therapist’s audio and video broke up multiple times during the call. 

Medication Management/Psychiatry

Signing up for a psychiatry appointment is the same as choosing a therapist—you must create an account before any information is available about providers. An initial 45-minute consultation appointment with a psychiatrist is $299, and each 15-minute follow-up appointment is $129. You can extend the consultation for an additional fee if you feel 45 minutes is not sufficient.

What Happens If I Miss a Session?

If you miss a therapy session, you still have to pay the full fee unless you cancel at least 24 hours in advance.

Switching Therapists at Doctor on Demand

Switching therapists at Doctor on Demand is pretty easy. All you have to do is choose a different provider when scheduling an appointment. 

That said, it is worth noting that when I tried switching in this way, when I clicked to schedule an appointment with my new therapist, a message appeared suggesting I stay with my therapist longer. It then asked me to confirm that I did, indeed, want to change therapists. Once I said I wanted to switch, though, the rest of the process was as easy as the first time around.

Pausing or Cancelling Therapy at Doctor on Demand

Since the company isn’t a subscription service, there isn’t a need to pause or cancel anything. Since you only pay per appointment, cancelling just means you don’t sign up for any more sessions. Or if you want to take a break, just don’t schedule another appointment until you’re ready to resume. 

Quality of Care and User Satisfaction

I found the quality of care to be comparable with past therapy experiences I’ve had. My therapist offered helpful insight into my issues and practical solutions, which I appreciated. 

However, I have a few complaints about the service and my experience with Doctor on Demand. There doesn't seem to be a way to message your therapist in between appointments. I also didn't see an option to interact with my therapist via text message or email. I am more comfortable talking with people that way, so I would have liked this to have been an option. I also didn't see many appointment options that fit my schedule, which would have been nice as it would have allowed more flexibility. I also didn't feel comfortable discussing anything related to my identity since my therapist was a white woman, and she didn't have anything in her bio about being an ally for BIPOC or LGTQIA+ folks, and there wasn't an option to search for a therapist who was queer-affirming or a BIPOC ally.

Despite these issues, users we surveyed were overwhelmingly pleased with Doctor on Demand, with 94% rating the service overall as good, very good, or excellent. Forty-seven percent stated they would still be with their current therapist in six months, and the same number said they would still be seeing their therapist a year from now.

“Doctor on Demand does a good job of vetting their therapists,” says Dr. Marschall, “making sure that people's licensure is accurate and that they are qualified to offer the services provided.”  She also notes the benefit of Doctor on Demand offering medication management in addition to therapy, allowing patients to have all their medical needs met through one website.

Privacy Policies

The privacy policy for Doctor on Demand is standard compared to what I’ve seen on other similar websites. A lot of the information was in legalese, but it isn’t impossible to understand. The company states that it is HIPAA-compliant and legally responsible for protecting its clients' personal health information. There’s also information about how telehealth services require members to include health history. The website asks for your location so it can connect you to a therapist licensed in your state, and the site uses cookies (though it offers the option to choose “Do not sell my data” right next to the “accept cookies” button).  

There’s also an important notice that states the company does not gather information from those under 18, and that minors cannot be members of the service and should not be using the website unless they are following the rules outlined in the terms of service dictating parental or guardian supervision.

Doctor on Demand vs. Its Competitors

Doctor on Demand is a telehealth service that offers mental health care, much like its competitors Teladoc, MDLIVE, and Amwell. Like these companies, Doctor on Demand accepts insurance, though the number of insurance plans it accepts is low compared to other telehealth companies. Additionally, like these competitors, Doctor on Demand operates on a pay-per-session system. This differs from both Talkspace and BetterHelp, who are giants in the online therapy field and only offer monthly subscription services. (Talkspace accepts insurance as well, while BetterHelp does not.) Additionally, both Talkspace and BetterHelp offer texting services, unlike Doctor on Demand.

About 79% of people we surveyed were likely to recommend Doctor on Demand to someone else. This is roughly the same as the 78% that said they’d recommend Amwell, but it is less than two other notable competitors: MDLIVE and Teladoc. Eighty-four percent said they would recommend MDLIVE; and 86% would recommend Teladoc. In comparison, 82% of Talkspace users and 77% of BetterHelp users felt the same way. 

However, 50% of participants said they found both Doctor on Demand and Amwell’s services to be “much better” than other services they used, and 21% found Doctor on Demand’s services to be “better.” This was higher than MDLIVE and Teladoc; only 38% said they found Teladoc’s services to be much better, and 30% said they found MDLIVE’s services to be much better.

Overall, Doctor on Demand was rated favorably by survey participants, with 94% of participants rating the company good, very good, or excellent. In comparison, 91% felt the same about MDLIVE, and 88% said they had positive experiences with Amwell. However, it seems to not quite measure up to Teladoc, with whom 97% said they had positive experiences.

Final Verdict

Overall, I would recommend Doctor on Demand because of the quality of the services I received, its national reach, and the fact that it accepts insurance, but only if you happen to have insurance that the company takes. I would also only recommend it to people who are okay with or prefer video chat sessions, as you do not have the option to have therapy sessions via chat or phone calls as other services we reviewed do. I would like to see more diversity options on the site, from the therapists’ identities to their experiences working with marginalized populations. 

I would suggest anyone looking to use this service be aware of its limitations, such as the potential for it to not accept your insurance. As always, assessing your unique needs for therapy is most important when it comes to choosing your providers.

Methodology

To fairly and accurately review the best online therapy programs, we sent questionnaires to 55 companies and surveyed 105 current users of each. This allowed us to directly compare services offered by gathering qualitative and quantitative data about each company and its users’ experiences.

Specifically, we evaluated each company on the following factors: website usability, the sign-up and therapist matching processes, therapist qualifications, types of therapy offered, the service's quality of care, client-therapist communication options, session length, subscription offerings, client privacy protections, average cost and value for money, whether it accepts insurance, how easy it is to change therapists, overall user satisfaction, and the likelihood that clients would recommend them.

We also signed up for the companies in order to get a sense of how this process worked, how easy to use the platform is, and how therapy takes place at the company. Then, we worked with three subject matter experts to get their expert analysis on how suited this company is to provide quality care to therapy seekers. 

By Fairley Lloyd
Fairley Lloyd has been advocating for mental health awareness and social issues since college. She has 3+ years of experience writing about mental health, covering topics such as depression, anxiety, suicide, and general mental wellness. She graduated from the University of North Carolina of Wilmington with a bachelor in fine arts degree in creative writing, as well as a certificate in publishing.

Edited by
Simone Scully
simone-scully-verywell

Simone is the health editorial director for performance marketing at Verywell. She has over a decade of experience as a professional journalist covering mental health, chronic conditions, medicine, and science.

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and
Hannah Owens
Hannah Owens

Hannah Owens is the Mental Health/General Health Editor for performance marketing at Verywell. She is a licensed social worker with clinical experience in community mental health.

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