MIAMI (CBS4) – When Rodger Hoffman wanted a second opinion about surgery he was told he needed, he went to the Web.

“The doctor was able to ask me specific questions about my history of the injury and look at my hand and the condition that it was in,” said Hoffman.

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In this case, Hoffman was 5,000 miles away from his doctor. They could have corresponded through email, but the specialist felt this was a better option.

“There are some things that just don’t translate well through email,” Hoffman said.

The two men connected through a service known as 2ND-M-D. It’s one of a growing number of online services, such as American Well, Teladoc and Consult A Doc, which all match patients with doctors.

“Most of the people who come to our site have a diagnosis so they are trying to find out what are the next steps.  Where should I go for surgery? Do I need the surgery? Do I go to a different type of doctor?” explained Clint Phillips, who founded 2ND-M-D after his daughter had a stroke during childbirth.

“We were told to fly across the country to be able to have simple questions answered that we didn’t even know the doctors had the answers to,” Phillips explained.

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The American Academy of Family Physicians sees more and more of its members going high-tech with care. But it feels it is important to point out that you can only get so much help from a physician you never physically meet.

“It really is more of a conversation and information sharing.  They make a clear and I believe appropriate distinction that it is not the delivery of medical care and they describe that specifically that it’s not diagnosing and not prescribing treatment,” said Phillips.

The AAFP thinks that is an important distinction when people are paying an average of $170, which insurance often doesn’t cover, to see the doctor online.

Hoffman says it was worth every penny.”I spent more time with Dr. Eaton over the Internet than I do in a standard office and face to face with my physicians.”

Hoffman even chose to fly across the country to have his specialist handle his operation.

“I can’t imagine a better technology,” Hoffman said.

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The AAFP did note that there is definitely something for all physicians to learn from the fact that patients are seeking out specialized care online, and that it shows where the weaknesses are in the current healthcare system, including the notion of getting a certain amount of time with the doctor the patient scheduled an appointment to see.