Tenn. residents get doctor online or by phone

In this June 19, 2012 photo, Dr. Bruce Stowell examines patient Robert Busch at his office in Grants Pass, Ore. Stowell is among many doctors in rural areas who have capped the numbers of Medicare patients they take due to low reimbursement levels. A nationwide shortage of primary care physicians willing to set up practice in rural areas is making the problem worse. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tennessee residents can now visit a doctor online or by telephone for relief from minor ailments.

A service called Teladoc began service Monday, charging $50 per contact for physician consultations. The Tennessean reported Arizona-based Apogee Physicians said Tennessee is the pilot state for its remote program, partly because the company already provides staffing at a dozen hospitals around the state.

The queries are answered around the clock, seven days a week. Doctors cannot prescribe narcotics, but can message pharmacies for routine prescriptions, such as antibiotics.

Some medical professionals have concerns about the idea.

Dr. Mohamad Sidani, a professor with Meharry Medical College, said body language is very important in diagnosing an illness and he want to see patients face to face.