Frequently Asked Questions About Telemedicine

What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine is the use of technology to electronically exchange medical information and provide medical services to patients from a distance.

How is Telemedicine Different from Telehealth?

Telehealth often encompasses a broader definition of remote health care that doesn't always involve clinical services.

Both telemedicine and telehealth include:

How Does Telemedicine Work?

Telemedicine can involve many different methods for providing health care remotely.

Some examples of clinical telemedicine services at UPMC include:

Who Benefits from Telemedicine?

Both patients and health care providers located far from large cities or in rural areas can benefit greatly from telemedicine.

Patient benefits Provider benefits
For patients, UPMC's Telemedicine Program provides:

For health care providers, UPMC's Telemedicine Program provides:

  • Timely treatment close to home
  • Reduced travel time
  • Access to world-class treatment
  • Improved quality of care
  • Specialty consults to help make decisions about care
  • Input from world-class specialists without having to send patients to Pittsburgh
  • Educational opportunities and mentoring
  • Increased efficiency
  • Improved patient outcomes
  • Reduced health care costs

What Equipment Do I Need for Telemedicine?

This depends on the specialty and the method of telemedicine transmission.

  • Store and forward technology — for obtaining and transmitting images to a remote site for review and consultation — requires a software system on a personal computer.
  • A more in-depth visit using videoconferencing generally uses a secure system with a high-speed internet connection.
  • The patient site uses a telemedicine practitioner’s cart for videoconferencing, which you purchase as one unit and includes the:
    • Monitor
    • Computer
    • Camera
  • There are many peripheral instruments which can be attached to the practitioner's cart that can assist in an interactive examination, such as:
    • Digital stethoscope
    • Otoscope
    • Ophthalmoscope
    • Total exam camera

Many hospitals throughout Pennsylvania already have store and forward image transfer capabilities and real-time videoconferencing systems that allow them to collaborate with UPMC specialists.

Will Patients Still Need to See a Specialist in Person?

Possibly, but the ultimate goal of telemedicine is to allow patients to receive care close to home, rather than care that requires long-distance travel.

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com