What Is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine — also called telehealth or video visits — mean seeing your provider face-to-face on a screen instead of in person.
You can visit your doctor via video for many of the same reasons you'd have an in-person appointment.
You can schedule a video visit to:
- Follow up with your PCP after treatment or a hospital stay.
- Stay connected if you have a mental health concern like depression or chronic health issues like diabetes or heart disease.
- Share data — like blood pressure readings — without making a trip to the office.
- Discuss treatment options for an acute illness like a cold or the flu.
Primary Care Telemedicine Services at UPMC
Many UPMC PCPs offer video visits for a wide spectrum of health services for people 18 and over.
Ask your PCP if they offer video visits for children under the age of 18. Their health care needs, such as vaccines, make it crucial for a doctor to see children in person.
Your PCP can provide many services via telemedicine, such as:
- Take your health history and answer questions you might have.
- Order tests you need (like x-rays or bloodwork).
- Diagnose and treat acute issues like sore throats, fever, sinus infections, UTIs, and rashes.
- Offer gynecologic care and birth control services.
- Give nutrition and exercise guidance.
- Offer acne, rosacea, and eczema treatments.
- Diagnose and manage lung, heart, endocrine, digestive, and orthopaedic problems.
- Manage chronic issues like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease.
- Prescribe medicine.
- Review lab results for chronic issues like diabetes or heart failure.
- Screen for depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
- Do a follow-up visit.
- Refer to you a specialist.
What Are the Benefits of Primary Care Telemedicine Services?
Some pros of primary care telemedicine services are:
- It's easy. All you need is a smartphone, tablet, or computer, and one of UPMC's free patient portal apps.
- You can avoid the waiting room. You don't have to worry about being around others who may be sick.
- You can schedule around your day. If you need to see the doctor during your lunch hour, or juggle kids' schedules, telemedicine is a good option.
- It allows you to choose from open appointments online with providers who work with your schedule.
- It's easier to stay on top of your health. You're less likely to postpone a doctor's visit if you don't have to travel or wait for your appointment.
Telemedicine is an especially good option for people:
- Whose health makes it hard to travel.
- Who live in remote rural areas.
- Who are older and don't drive.
- Who are busy and have trouble finding time to go to their PCP's office for care.
Who Can Use Telemedicine for Primary Care?
Most people over the age of 18 can use telemedicine for primary care. Anyone under 18 must have a legal guardian with proxy access accompany them during the visit.
You should check with your insurance company before scheduling a video visit. Some health insurance plans don't allow video visits for yearly wellness exams. You also may have to pay a copay or deductible.
What to Expect During Your Video Visit
A video visit is like an office visit.
Your doctor will allow the same amount of time. But instead of sitting in a doctor's office, you'll be in the comfort of your own home.
Here's how to get started.
Log in to your video visit up to 30 minutes prior to your appointment using your UPMC patient portal. The portal will give you instructions for joining your scheduled visit online or in the app.
Be sure to check your audio and video settings prior to joining.
Like an in-person visit, the provider may not join right at the scheduled time of the appointment. They'll join as soon as they can.
During the visit, you'll both see and hear each other.
Your doctor may:
- Have you weigh yourself if you have a scale at home.
- Ask for your vital signs using a blood pressure cuff and a thermometer at home.
- Ask you to aim the screen a certain way if they need to see a skin problem or other issue.
- Ask to schedule a follow-up visit in person. They'll let you know where and when to schedule an in-person appointment.
Scheduling a Video Visit with a UPMC Primary Care Provider
If you already have a UPMC PCP, use your patient portal to schedule your next video visit.
To find a new provider, visit the UPMC Provider Directory.