Carefree M.D. Blog

What to Know Before Scheduling Your First Online Doctor Appointment

Carefree MD

April 24, 2024 | Blog

For those new to the world of telehealth, a first online doctor appointment has the potential to feel overwhelming.

The good news? Understanding how telehealth works, knowing what to expect, and identifying the benefits of online or virtual health can help minimize anxiety and ensure you have a seamless first appointment.

But what exactly does happen during an online doctor’s appointment, and further, is opting for an online consultation or appointment more beneficial than an in-person visit?

In this blog, we’ll explore the ins and outs of online health, explain how most processes work, and outline the benefits of seeing your doctor online.


  • Understanding how telehealth works and what to expect can help minimize anxiety before your first online doctor appointment.
  • Online doctor appointments offer convenience, comfort, control, efficiency, cost-effectiveness and improved access to healthcare.
  • Patients can expect elements like video calls, potential app downloads, discussions of symptoms, visual confirmation, treatment plans and suggestions for follow-up visits during their online appointments.
  • Proper preparation, including checking your internet connection, finding a private spot, having medical history handy, preparing questions, taking notes and asking questions during the call, is crucial for a seamless appointment.
  • Online health appointments can be beneficial for minor health issues, offering similar advantages to in-person visits without the inconvenience of traveling to a doctor's office.

A Guide to Online Doctor Appointments

First, let’s break down what an online doctor appointment is.

For those who have never had a telehealth consultation or appointment, a telehealth visit is a way to virtually connect with a qualified doctor without having to go to an office physically. It’s important to point out that telehealth visits like these are for non-emergency, non-urgent health situations–anything that requires immediate attention is likely not a good candidate for online or virtual health.

Because we live in a world of seamless connection, seeing your doctor is easier than ever.

Patients can now use their smartphones, their desktops or their tablets–whatever they have that allows them to connect online. Depending on the reason behind your visit and what you need to discuss with your doctor, many online or virtual health visits can offer the same benefits as an in-person appointment.

In many cases, you’ll have the same experience, the same symptom discussion and the same treatment plan.

Telehealth: What You Can Expect at Your Online Doctor Appointment

While an online health appointment is similar in many ways to an in-person appointment, there are some differences. Knowing what these differences are ahead of your visit–and what to expect of your appointment–can help minimize anxiety or nervousness.

Every doctor has a different protocol, so it’s impossible to say for sure what your appointment will include.

That being said, it’s likely that you’ll experience elements like:

  • Video Instead of Audio Calls: Though some doctors might offer an audio-only call for your appointment, it’s much more likely that you’ll be on a video call. This is important for your doctor, as they’ll need to be able to see any visible symptoms or abnormalities that might be an issue.
  • Potential App Downloads: Some offices will either have you download a specific app that you have your appointment through in order to ensure your privacy, and others might recommend a video app to make your appointment seamless. Either way, it’s likely you’ll need to have a specific app in order to attend your appointment.
  • Introductions & Discussions of Symptoms: Most online appointments are like in-person appointments. You’ll share insight into your experience and your symptoms so your doctor can fully understand the scope.
  • Visual Confirmation & Insight: After discussing any symptoms or issues, your doctor will likely ask you to show them any physical abnormalities or applicable issues. Then, they’ll share their insight.
  • Treatment Plans: The natural order of an online appointment is like an in-person one. After you talk about symptoms and they share their insight, your doctor will share a treatment plan. Often, they’ll write a prescription or share their knowledge on what comes next. Sometimes, they’ll write a prescription for any medication you might need. In some cases, too, they’ll suggest you come in for an in-person consultation for further discussion, tests or treatment.
  • Potential Suggestion for Follow-Up Visits: Depending on what your treatment plan entails, your doctor might suggest a follow-up visit for you–either virtually or in person.

How You Can Prepare for an Online Doctor Appointment

Knowing what to expect out of your appointment is the first step to a seamless and stress-free appointment. The next? Proper preparation. We’re sharing a few ways you can take the proper steps to prepare for your virtual appointment.

Email or Call Support Ahead of Time

Every doctor's appointment is different. It’s impossible to know exactly what to expect out of your virtual visit if you don’t ask ahead of time.

Reach out to your telehealth provider before your appointment with a call or email and ask them how you can best prepare for your visit. It’s likely they can give you a list of preparatory steps to follow or at least direct you to a list of FAQs.

For example, at Carefree MD, we ask patients to update their Electronic Health Records (EHR) before they schedule a consultation with our doctors. Then, our doctors chat with them, diagnose conditions, develop treatment plans, answer questions and update patients’ EHR so they have secure access to all their medical history online.

Check Your Internet Connection Before Your Visit

Nothing is quite so frustrating as preparing for an online doctor’s appointment only to be bested by a bad internet connection. Even if you’re working through an app suggested by your doctor, virtual appointments do require an internet or network connection, so make sure you’ve tested out your devices and your connection before your appointment. This is especially important if you’d like to avoid a frustrating, lagging connection during your visit.

Find a Private, Quiet Spot for Your Appointment

For your sake (and for your doctor’s), find a quiet and comfortable place to have your appointment that won’t be loud or distracting. Not only do you need to be able to hear your doctor, but you’ll also likely need privacy to show them any physical abnormalities that might be troubling you. Talking about private details or needing to show your doctor something can be tricky if you’re trying to avoid being heard or seen by others.

Have Your Medical History Handy

Before your appointment begins, make sure you have all the necessary medical history forms and paperwork handy so you can answer your doctor’s questions accurately. You’ll likely only have a limited amount of time for your appointment (just like with an in-person appointment), so you won’t want to waste that valuable time searching for paperwork.

Know Your Questions Ahead of Time

Though some questions will arise that you can’t prepare for, try to write down any questions you have ahead of time so that you don’t forget to ask them during your appointment.

Take Notes

Set your device on a flat surface so that you can listen, talk with your doctor, and take notes all at once. It’s important to write down what they tell you so you can abide by your treatment plan and ensure you’re following their medical advice. Don’t rely on your memory to detail everything out–write it down while they’re sharing their diagnoses and treatment plans with you.

Ask Questions On the Call (Don’t Wait)

It might feel intimidating to ask questions on the call, but it’s important to get your questions out in the open while you have the doctor in the appointment. If something is confusing, mention it while you’re chatting with them. While your doctor is likely fine with you reaching back out later for clarification, it saves you time and effort to ask any pressing or spontaneous questions during your appointment.

Create a Plan for Follow-Up Care

Make sure you talk with your doctor on the call about follow-up care. Do you need to schedule another online appointment? Is it important to schedule some sort of in-person appointment for this issue? When should you reach back out? Go over a plan of action for follow-up after you’ve discussed your treatment plan so you know what to expect and when you should be checking back in.

The Benefits of Online Doctors

Many patients new to online or virtual health might be curious about what virtual visits can offer that in-person visits cannot. Though not every condition or issue should be treated with an online visit, there are plenty of minor things that can–and in those cases, seeing an online doctor can be incredibly helpful.

These are just a few of the benefits of telehealth patients should consider:

  • Convenience: When you opt for a virtual appointment, you have the ability to forgo all the inconveniences of an in-person appointment. You can skip waiting in a (potentially) uncomfortable waiting room; you don’t have to deal with traffic going to and from the appointment; you don’t have to navigate childcare (for those it applies to you), and, in most cases, you can have your visit from the sanctuary of your own living room.
  • Comfort: In some cases, a doctor’s visit means you’re not feeling well–and nothing is worse than having to leave the comfort of your own bed or couch when you’re under the weather. With an online or virtual health visit, you can get the same attention, care and treatment without having to give up the comfort of your home.
  • Control: Though a doctor’s office is the right place to be when you’re sick, there’s no denying it also comes with the risk of subjecting others to your illness or being subjected to others’ illnesses. With an online visit, you can bypass infectious risks and keep your own condition controlled.
  • Efficiency: When done correctly, an online visit can often be more efficient. You’ll prepare questions and healthcare information in advance, brief your doctor and get right down to business without having to drive there, wait at the clinic, wait for your doctor in the room and then drive home.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Telehealth visits are often more affordable than in-person visits because doctors can see more patients within the time frame. Virtual appointments have the potential to save patients and providers money.
  • Access: It is often easier to get a telehealth appointment than an in-person appointment for some of the same reasons mentioned above. Doctors can see more patients virtually within a specific time frame than they can in person, and with the flexibility that online visits provide, they can usually squeeze virtual patients in more quickly.

Need Care Fast? Meet Our Doctors

Those new to the world of online health might enjoy the flexibility and comfortability that telehealth can provide. As parting advice, we recommend double-checking that your virtual visit is within your medical coverage–whether that’s traditional medical insurance, telehealth benefit program like Carefree MD, or another type of financial aid.

If you’re seeking fast and convenient care, Carefree MD can help. Some common problems our doctors on call can help with include:

  • Allergies
  • Headaches
  • Rashes
  • Small wounds
  • Sinus conditions
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Flu
  • Asthma
  • Skin inflammations
  • Heartburn
  • Sore throat

When you join Carefree MD, you can request a consult and receive a call or video visit from a doctor in less than 30 minutes (on average). Our state-licensed and board-certified physicians can diagnose an illness, create a treatment plan, and even prescribe medications when medically necessary for you without needing to leave your home or office.


The Carefree MD blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed doctor or healthcare professional before seeking treatment. The Carefree MD Card is not insurance and Carefree MD is not an insurance provider.