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If you’re thinking of trying out virtual health care, you may be wondering how to prepare. You may even be wondering what a telehealth visit is, and how it’s different from a traditional one

UPMC makes it remarkably easy to use telehealth services. Telehealth includes the range of health-related services that happen remotely, using technology.

RELATED: Learn more about UPMC’s Telemedicine services

Telemedicine is one of those services. A good telemedicine example is a video visit with a health care provider.

Though telemedicine is technically a type of telehealth, it’s common to use these two terms interchangeably.

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What Is A Telemedicine Visit?

A telemedicine visit is a virtual interaction with a health care provider. Instead of sitting in an exam room, you and your provider meet via a screen. By asking questions and examining you using video technology, your provider can treat you.

Video visits take about the same amount of time as regular office visits. Providers can run behind schedule, the same way they can in the office. You may have to wait for a few minutes for your provider to join the video.

Once the provider appears, they will ask questions about what brings you “in” today. They may ask about your medical or family history, as well as your current symptoms.

You may work together to provide vital signs, using whatever home equipment you have. This includes a scale, a blood pressure monitor, a pulse oximeter, or other wearable technology.

To examine you, you provider might do things like:

  • Have you aim the screen so they can get a closer look at a rash or part of the body, such as sore throat.
  • Ask you to feel (“palpate”) where it hurts and describe how it feels.
  • Have you do simple moves to test your range of motion, like stretch your arm or reach for your toes.
  • Look at your medications with you.

How to Prepare For a Telemedicine Visit

There are a few simple steps you can take to make the most of your telemedicine visit.

First, assess which room in your home is best for the visit. Some things to consider about place:

  • You want a comfortable, quiet place to sit. A living room chair or couch, an office chair, or even a kitchen chair can work.
  • You also want to make sure that you have good lighting. Consider bringing a lamp near the chair or desk where you’ll be.
  • Try not to sit in an area where there is a window directly behind you, because it makes it difficult to see you.

Gather any monitoring equipment you have, such as a scale, blood pressure cuff, or pulse oximeter. If you’ve been keeping track of blood pressure readings, have those handy to share.

Ensure that you have good sound and that your microphone is in working order. If you have headphones or ear buds, using them will give you the best quality.

Be ready with any questions for your provider, just as you would if you were seeing them in person. Make a list of issues to discuss or details of your symptoms.

How to Schedule a Video Visit

You can connect with many UPMC providers via telehealth. New patients can schedule as well.

Connecting requires a smart phone, a tablet, or a computer with a webcam and internet connection. You’ll need to use one of UPMC’s free patient portal apps — MyUPMC or UPMC Central PA Portal. (If you’re a new user, this guide will help you choose the right portal.)

You can also use the other UPMC telemedicine app called UPMC AnywhereCare.

You can use this app to connect with a provider on demand, 24/7. You can even use if you don’t have a UPMC Health Plan by paying flat fee of $59 for a visit. Those who have a UPMC Health Plan usually pay less, or sometimes nothing at all (depending on your plan).

About UPMC

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. We are dedicated to providing Life Changing Medicine to our communities.

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