Book an appointment

Book a free appointment for COVID-19 antibody testing.

Blog Online Doctor

How to Make the Most of Your Virtual Doctor Appointment

June 19, 2020 Read Time - 10 minutes

About Author

Leah likes writing about health and science subjects. Through her writing she hopes to help people of all backgrounds have equal access to information and quality healthcare.

How to Make the Most of Your Virtual Doctor Appointment

Although it’s been around for several years, the demand for telehealth services has recently exploded as we find ourselves adjusting to a new way of life. More and more people are finding themselves unable, or unwilling, to go into their doctor’s office or local health clinic.

And we can’t blame them.

Why risk catching the virus at your doctor’s office, if there’s a better way to get the medical care you need? Now, many people are trying virtual doctor appointments for the first time and aren’t quite sure what to expect. 

“What does a virtual appointment mean?” and “How does a telemedicine appointment work?” are common questions for those new to telehealth.

Here at PlushCare, we’ve been providing telehealth services for years, and we’ve asked our medical director Dr Adonis Saremi M.D. what he’d like his patients to know in advance. So believe us when we say that we can provide you with the best advice to prepare for your first virtual appointment. 

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

Book an appointment

How Do I Prepare for a Telehealth Appointment?

We’re glad you asked! Coming prepared to your appointment helps you and the doctor make the most of your time together, and when your health is on the line this is a must.

Let’s talk about how you should prepare for your telehealth appointment. 

Have the Right Tech

Without the right technology, a virtual appointment can be difficult or even impossible. Before your appointment, make sure you have everything you need, including:

  • A strong internet connection or reliable cell service
  • A functioning camera. Video visits are always preferred over phone calls, and some states require video. 
  • Test your audio and video ahead of time
  • Download the PlushCare App. Benefits of the app include secure in-app video conferencing, seamless medical record integration, lab result tracking and referencing, and unlimited in-app messaging with our care team.

“Prior to your appointment, check your internet connection and make sure your video, microphone and speakers are functional.”

Dr Adonis Saremi M.D.
A woman wearing green on laptop computer, holding phone, wearing earbuds.

Make Sure You Can Be Treated Online

Don’t risk wasting your time for something that can’t be handled with an online appointment. Online doctors are a great solution for most urgent and primary care health needs.

So, what can an online doctor treat?

The most commonly treated conditions online include:

Sinus infections

Pink eye

Headache

Diabetes

Depression

Skin Conditions

Urinary tract infections

Bacterial infections

Sore throat

Thyroid disorders

Anxiety

Erectile Dysfunction

STDs

Cold and flu

Asthma

High blood pressure

Mental health

Ear Infections


Read: Can a Virtual Doctor Write a Prescription?


Common Online Prescriptions Our Doctors Write Are:

Antidepressants

PrEP

Antibiotics

Prescription Refills

Birth Control

Smoking Cessation

If you’re not sure if your condition can be treated online ask our support team by emailing [email protected]


At PlushCare we only charge you if the doctor can help you, so if you accidentally book for something that can’t be treated online, don’t worry, you’ll get your money back.


It’s also important to note that online doctors CAN help with conditions that require testing prior to diagnosis, such as STDs and thyroid conditions.

The online doctor will simply refer you for lab testing just as your in-person doctor would. The PlushCare doctor can ensure they order you all the necessary lab tests and locate the closest lab to you. You’ll go get tested and your results will be electronically sent back to the PlushCare doctor.

The doctor will then schedule a follow up appointment with you, to go over your results, make a diagnosis and prescribe a treatment plan.

What can online doctors NOT do? 

Online doctors are not a solution for emergencies. If you are experiencing an emergency call 911 or go to the hospital immediately.

This includes: severe blood loss, cuts that require stitches, broken bones or injuries that require x-rays, allergic reaction resulting in throat tightening and difficulty breathing, and all rapidly worsening life threatening conditions.

Additionally online doctors cannot prescribe controlled substances like Xanax, Adderall and OxyContin.

If you aren’t sure whether you would benefit from an online appointment, you can reference our FAQs or contact our support team. 

Be in a Quiet Space with No Distractions

To get the most out of your appointment, give your doctor your full attention and try to avoid distractions and loud noises.

Make sure you have good lighting to show your doctor visible symptoms (like a rash or the back of your throat).

“If you have a skin condition or rash, take a high quality photo with good lighting and upload it – photographs typically offer better resolution than video and can help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.”

Dr. Adonis Saremi M.D.

During your appointment, avoid distractions like:

  • Tending to children
  • Cooking
  • Driving
  • Changing clothes (yeah, we’re a little surprised we have to mention this too)
  • Performing other activities, especially loud ones

Be on Time

At PlushCare, our doctors make it to your appointment on time.

If you’re late you may not get enough time with the doctor, because they will need to leave in order to be on time to their next appointment.

We recommend you login to your account or mobile app 5-10 minutes before your appointment time to make sure you’re ready at your start time.

Unlike in a regular office, the doctor will be waiting to see you! Crazy, we know!

“Do your best to join your appointment on time by logging into your account 5 minutes in advance.”

Dr Adonis Saremi M.D.
A woman holding a tablet speaking to an online doctor, gestures with hand.

Have Your Medications on Hand

Our doctors need to know all the medications you take (including prescriptions, supplements, and any other remedies you’ve been using) for several reasons.

The most important reason is to prevent them from prescribing any medication that may negatively interact with your current medications.


Read: Can Primary Care Doctors Prescribe Antidepressants?


Knowing what medications you take, and in what doses, may also help your doctor diagnose or treat you, or it could ensure you get refills of the correct medication at the proper dosage. 

“Consider uploading/emailing any recent labs, tests, or progress notes from your previous doctor in order to facilitate your care. Keep a list of your medications with doses and instructions handy.”

Dr Adonis Saremi M.D.
  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

Book an appointment

Patients Should Be Able To Answer the Following Questions:

For the most effective appointment, make sure you can answer the following questions.

Why Are You Here?

Don’t risk forgetting an important symptom. Write down your problem and symptoms before your appointment. 

How Long Have You Had Symptoms?

Check a calendar before your appointment, if necessary, so you can be sure how long you’ve had this problem and whether your symptoms have gotten better or worse since they started. 

Do Your Symptoms Come and Go and if so, When?

Being able to give your doctor examples of when your symptoms are the worst and best (like they’re better in the morning or worse after eating) may help your doctor make a diagnosis, create a treatment plan, and come up with the best medication to prescribe, if necessary. 

How Bad Are Your Symptoms?

Let your doctor know if or how your symptoms are getting in the way of your daily life (like if you can’t sleep or eat) and, when possible, rate the severity of your symptoms on a scale from 1 to 10. 

Where Do You Feel Your Symptoms, and Are They Spreading?

Knowing the exact location of your symptoms and whether they’re spreading can help your doctor come up with the correct diagnosis and optimal treatment plan. 

What Makes them Better or Worse?

Having a list of activities, times, foods, or anything else that helps or worsens your symptoms may help the doctor make a diagnosis.

Have You Tried to Self-Treat?

Let the doctor know about anything you have tried to treat your issue with, including pain killers, natural remedies, or something else, and whether it worked. This helps the doctor understand your condition better and may rule out certain treatment methods

Do You Have Other, More Minor Symptoms?

You might be surprised to discover that seemingly unrelated symptoms can be caused by the same issue. Make sure you tell your doctor all your symptoms, even ones that seem minor or irrelevant. Every detail is another puzzle piece that may help the doctor diagnose you faster. 

What Do You Think Is Wrong?

From previous health issues you’ve had, family history, or just a hunch, you may think you know what your problem is. Feel free to share that information with your doctor, as it may help them with your diagnosis. However, you should defer to the doctor’s education and experience if they disagree with you. 

Why Did You Come to the Doctor Today?

Why did you schedule an appointment – did something change or happen that made you book today? Why didn’t you schedule yesterday or tomorrow? This information might help the doctor understand your current condition.

Be Patient and Keep an Open Mind

If you’re new to virtual appointments, you may experience a learning curve adjusting to the technology.

This may lead to frustration but remain calm and remember that the doctor is working their hardest to treat you just as they would for an in-office appointment. 

If you find yourself frustrated and missing your typical in-office appointment, ask yourself: Are the inconveniences I’m experiencing now taking up more time than my old way of seeking treatment (like waiting weeks for an appointment, driving through traffic to the office, sitting in the waiting room, and hoping the doctor isn’t running too far behind)? The answer is likely no. 

We realize online appointments may seem less comprehensive but we assure you this is not the case. In fact, they are highly effective and efficient, and the level of care is always up to top medical standards.


At PlushCare 97% of conditions are treated on the first visit.


All our doctors are board certified and are graduates from the top 50 U.S. medical schools. Combined, they have an average of 15 years experience and all of them have practiced as in-person doctors while some still do, in addition to practicing telehealth.

And remember, if the online doctor is ever unable to safely or effectively treat you, they will refer you to an in-person doctor for treatment and you will receive a full refund.

Give virtual doctor appointments a try and book with PlushCare today. We have the best doctors in the business due to our intensive vetting process and same day appointments are available.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

Book an appointment

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Do a Virtual Visit with My Doctor?

You can make an appointment with a licensed virtual doctor any time by clicking here or calling (888)798-0620. Download and login to the PlushCare app or website before your appointment time to provide the necessary information and ensure you’re ready for the doctor. They can make a diagnosis and send an electronic prescription to your local pharmacy. 

What Is a Phone Appointment with a Doctor? What Is a Virtual Office Visit?

A virtual office visit, or a phone appointment, involves a phone or video appointment with a licensed doctor where you discuss your current symptoms, medications, and medical history and have a standard office visit, just without the office. Additionally, doctors are able to prescribe medications, not classified as controlled substances, during a phone or video consultation

How Much Does a Virtual Visit Cost?

You may be wondering: Does insurance pay for telehealth? The answer depends on your insurance plan and the telehealth provider. At PlushCare we accept patients with and without insurance. Without insurance, a PlushCare appointment costs $99. With insurance, you’ll pay your typical in office copay. Our membership program costs $14.99 a month and includes great benefits like online same-day appointment booking, and unlimited access to our care team, including unlimited messaging. Learn more about online doctor costs.

Can I Get a Doctor’s Note from a Virtual Visit?

PlushCare can provide simple forms like return to work or school documents when appropriate. Our policy is to provide an excuse note for no more than 3 consecutive days after each appointment. Learn more about doctors notes.

Give Virtual Appointments a Try

Now that we’ve (hopefully) answered most of your questions, you may have one final question left: “How do I set up a virtual visit?”

Getting started with PlushCare is simple. Just click here or call (888)798-0620 to schedule your appointment. Follow the above tips to prepare for your appointment and we guarantee you’ll get the most out of your virtual visit.


Read More About How to Make the Most of Your Virtual Doctor Appointment


Sources

NPR. Telehealth Tips: How To Make The Most Of Video Visits With Your Doctor. Accessed on June 16, 2020 at https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/04/15/828084250/how-to-get-the-most-out-of-your-virtual-medical-appointment

US News. How to Get the Most Out of a Virtual Doctor’s Appointment. Accessed on June 16, 2020 at https://health.usnews.com/conditions/articles/how-to-prepare-for-a-virtual-doctors-visit

Essence. How To Make The Most Of Your Virtual Doctor’s Appointment. Accessed on June 16, 2020 at https://www.essence.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/virtual-doctors-appointment/

Reviewed By

Dr. Adonis Saremi

Dr. Saremi completed his Master’s Degree (MS) in Applied Physiology and Medical Doctorate (MD) at the Chicago Medical School. He subsequently completed residency training in Internal Medicine at the University of California, San Diego Medical Center. When he’s not working, he enjoys time with his family and the outdoors.

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

More to learn.

Meet Some of PlushCare’s Online Physicians

Online Doctors are Making Life Easy for Patients Visits to the doctor can be a hassle, particularly for small things…

Sofie Wise 8 minutes

Can You Get a Celebrex Prescription Online?

Can You Get a Celebrex Prescription Online? Yes, you can get a Celebrex prescription online. Book an online appointment with…

Dr. Umer Khan 5 minutes

Speak To a Doctor Online

Can I Talk to a Doctor Online? Yes, you can speak to a doctor online. Our world-class doctors can answer…

Margaret A Spera, NP, APRN 6 minutes