UPMC in the Susquehanna region is offering online video visit services as a more efficient, safer way to provide patients with the care they need while limiting the spread of COVID-19. All you need for an online video visit is an internet connection and a connected device. Although a smartphone or tablet is preferred, video visits are also available using a computer with a webcam.
“I recently had my first telemedicine visit which saved me from an unnecessary office and also saved the doctors, nurses, and other patients from being exposed to my germs – just in case I’m a carrier for COVID-19,” said patient Gail Kulp from Montoursville. “I’m not sick, and this was just a routine follow-up visit, however, I’m so glad that UPMC in the Susquehanna region has this option available!”
“UPMC has had it available for years, but we have seen a dramatic increase in provider and patient use since the outbreak of COVID-19,” said David Lopatofsky, MD, chief medical officer, UPMC in the Susquehanna region. “Our patients are concerned with community exposure and are heeding the recommendations of our state leaders to stay at home. During this challenging time, it allows our providers a safe alternative to see and care for patients while allowing the patients to remain in comfort of their homes.”
UPMC has been a leader in telemedicine for many years and had made significant investments in infrastructure and technology, long before COVID-19 forced a major change in care delivery.
“Here in northcentral Pennsylvania, we’ve gone from a handful of providers and services using telemedicine to having 160 providers across 30 service lines, ranging from primary to specialty care, offering virtual appointments,” said Chad Hunter, telehealth project manager, UPMC in the Susquehanna region. “We’re fortunate to be able to tap into our existing telemedicine experience and resources to rapidly expand access across our system to meet the needs of our patients during this challenging time. Providers and staff have worked tirelessly, and it’s amazing to see the amount of work that’s gone into making this a reality.”
Patients who have previously scheduled visits can contact their provider office to convert their appointment to an online visit. Patients who need to schedule a new visit can contact their doctor to schedule a new, online visit from the safety of their home. Office staff is ready to assist with walking new and established patients through the online visit process.
During an online video visit, the patient will receive diagnosis and care from one of UPMC’s specially trained medical providers. The patient and provider will be able to see and communicate with each other. The provider evaluates symptoms and performs a visual examination. They may also ask the patient to use a home thermometer to take their temperature or ask the patient to adjust the camera so he or she can better evaluate the body. After diagnosing the patient’s condition, the provider offers treatment recommendations. If necessary, the provider can send prescriptions to a pharmacy, as well as order tests to be performed at a lab.
“Telemedicine has many benefits including reducing a patient’s risk of exposure as the initial care and consultation is provided remotely, often with patients remaining in the comfort of their home,” said Heather Stafford, director, Infection Prevention and Control, UPMC Susquehanna. “Additionally, clinicians can more efficiently see patients, since rooms do not require cleaning or the clinician to put on and take off protective gear. Patients at risk and in need of further evaluation can be directed to a hospital that is prepared and ready.”
For more information on telemedicine at UPMC in the Susquehanna region, visit UPMCSusquehanna.org.
Timothy Judge, MD, FACS, general surgeon, UPMC in the Susquehanna region, uses telemedicine to consult with a patient.