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Frequently Asked Questions About Telemedicine

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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 throughout the region and abroad 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 travel.

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