What is a virtual PCP?

Reviewed by:
Dr. Geoffrey W. Rutledge
Chief Medical Officer and Co-founder
Last updated on April 8, 2021 UTC

When our team founded HealthTap in 2010, we positioned virtual care as an adjunct to in-person care—a position that was aligned with that of most state medical boards at the time.

In the following years, both HealthTap and the greater healthcare sector gained deep experience in delivering virtual care. We also ascertained that for most people who do not have severe medical problems, a virtual primary care physician (virtual PCP) can provide ongoing, high-quality care via video, phone, and text communications.

Additionally, Virtual PCPs can establish strong doctor-patient relationships when people have the option to see the same doctor for all their visits.

The virtual PCP guides patients through their healthcare journeys, evaluating and treating them for the wide array of problems and issues that can be handled virtually. When in-person care or diagnostic evaluation is indicated, the virtual PCP advises their patients on what, how, when, and where to get the care they need.

Just as in-office doctors send their patients who need a higher level of care to the hospital where a hospitalist will take over, virtual PCPs refer patients who need in-person care to an ambulatory clinic or doctor-office visit if and when in-person evaluation is needed.

What this means is that the majority of people who are not suffering acute or severe conditions can be managed entirely by their virtual PCP.

For patients, the ability to choose a virtual PCP as their primary care doctor is a major advance and benefit—compared to the alternatives. Choosing a virtual PCP significantly reduces out-of-pocket costs. It also reduces the barriers to care that many Americans face.

For those patients for whom virtual primary care is the best option, virtual PCPs offer compassionate, high-quality care efficiently and with minimal barriers.

HealthTap is proud to be a leader in virtual primary care, enabling people across the U.S. to choose their own virtual PCP, get care, receive guidance and counsel, manage care remotely, and be referred for in-person care any time that is needed.


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