During the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of telehealth surged. Even though it's now safe to see a doctor in person, some people prefer video visits to in-person ones.
Seeing a doctor online might be a good choice for you. It can be easy and convenient.
Here's what you need to know about telemedicine at UPMC.
Make a Primary Care Telehealth Appointment
If you already have a UPMC PCP, you can ask them about video visits.
If you don't have a doctor, find a UPMC PCP close to you. Then call us to make an appointment or learn how we can help.
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 telehealth 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
Some UPMC PCPs offer online visits.
We offer a wide spectrum of telehealth services for people 18 and over.
Ask your PCP if they offer telehealth for children under age 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.
- Review your medicines with you.
- Refer you to a specialist.
What Are the Benefits of Primary Care Telemedicine Services?
Some pros of primary care telehealth services are:
- It's easy to log in. All you need is a smartphone, tablet, or computer with a webcam, and access to the internet. You'll log in using 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 on your lunch hour, or juggle kids' schedules, telehealth 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.
- It's efficient. While you're waiting for your appointment, you can do chores or other things on your to-do list. You may even be able to schedule your virtual visit on your lunch hour at work.
- Your doctor can give you more tailored care by seeing your home setting. You can move your device around so they can look at your medicine or see any tripping hazards.
Telehealth 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 don't have a car or have other transportation challenges.
- Who travel often for work or other reasons.
- Who are out of state at college or other reasons.
Who Can Use Telemedicine for Primary Care?
Just about anyone over 18 can use telemedicine for primary care.
You should check with your insurance company before using telehealth. You may have to pay a copay or deductible.
Some health insurance plans don't allow online visits for yearly wellness exams.
It's best to check on your coverage before you make a telehealth appointment.
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 it works:
You'll log in through the UPMC portal. The portal will give you specific instructions for joining your scheduled visit online or in the app.
Your doctor will “enter" the room. Your provider will join the call once they're done with the patient before you, just like in the office. You'll make sure you can both see and hear each other.
You'll talk about the health issue you have.
Your doctor may:
- Have you weigh yourself. You'll need a scale at home.
- Ask for your vital signs. You'll need 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.
Based on your health issue, your doctor may want to schedule a follow-up visit in person. They'll let you know where and when to schedule an in-person appointment.