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Telemedicine Paves the Way for Healthcare’s Future

Telemedicine (also known as telehealth) soared to popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this option for patients and providers continues to stay in demand. Telemedicine is an option to manage your health care with a provider through the use of digital communication.

Telemedicine is offered in three ways:

  • Synchronous—this is when the doctor communicates with the patient with real-time video or audio via a smartphone or other device

  • Asynchronous—this is when the doctor later sees a patient’s medical images or other data, and the doctor and patient can send secure messages to each other

  • Remote patient monitoring—when a patient’s measurements, such as blood pressure, are sent to the provider for analysis

  • Virtual appointments support a variety of patients’ needs and offer many advantages for one’s convenience.


Telehealth appointments offer quick accessibility for the patients who are not able to come into the office for a variety of reasons, such as possibly being contagious, being wheelchair bound or not having access to transportation. Convenience is another big factor for busy adults and families; seeing your doctor from the comfort of your own home via a device gives someone like a busy mom or a full-time executive time back in their day. These appointments also help patients skip out on long wait times in the doctor’s office and saves them a commute. Further, virtual visits offer care for minor injuries, illnesses and conditions such as migraines, colds and COVID-19, which can generally be diagnosed without requiring the patient to see a doctor in person.

A doctor must first grant permission for the virtual appointment to take place and deem it clinically appropriate. Serious medical cases cannot be treated over a video or phone chat, such as if the doctor needs to listen to a patient’s lungs or heart. In this case, the patient is required to physically come into the medical office for evaluation and treatment. In other situations, doctors cannot always prescribe certain medications, such as some controlled substances, without evaluating the patient in person.

In general, since these appointments are not in person, it is possible for misdiagnosis. Telehealth appointments also run the risk of gaps in care over time, including follow-up visits, and possible misuse of medicine.


Another advantage of telehealth is that patients are not required to be tech-savvy for their appointments. Just a smartphone or a laptop/computer/tablet with WIFI is required for patients to access their video appointments. Companies like UPMC who offer telehealth appointments have a free patient portal app, called MyUPMC, where patients can log on and access their appointments. Records of their appointment summary and medical history will be logged here for the patient and doctor to refer to in the future. Appointments can also be scheduled via the UPMC portal as well.

“Telemedicine brings more convenience and accessibility to their services,” said Julie Lamb, senior program manager at UPMC.

However, for those who live in rural areas, access to free internet and/or a device may be difficult to gain. People without internet access can consider visiting a public library that offers free wireless internet and take the virtual appointment from there.

PA-based counseling company, Makin Wellness supports individuals in their mental health by offering fully online sessions. From individual therapy and couples counseling to family therapy and assessments, every session is virtual to support PA residents from across the state. The company also matches patients with a specialized provider within 24 hours.

Photo courtesy Makin Wellness
Photo courtesy Makin Wellness

“Our aim is to help people navigate life’s challenges, improve their mental health, and enhance their overall quality of life,” stated Jamaica Mancenido, Makin Wellness marketing manager.


Before scheduling a telehealth appointment, patients should check with the doctor’s office to review any costs and insurance coverage for this type of visit. Some insurance restrictions have changed in recent years, so it’s important to see which providers cover virtual visits–or it could lead to high out-of-pocket costs. When it comes to mental health services, some insurance plans do not offer partial or full coverage. In this case, practices like Makin Wellness offer self-pay options. For self-pay patients, an initial session costs $192.50 and ongoing sessions are discounted at $165 per visit. Services like these are highly encouraged for people who are committed to investing money and time in their mental health.


For people who need emergency care in rural areas without specialists present, telemedicine can greatly support such cases. Healthcare professionals from the patient’s community can contact other doctors in the network via a virtual video call to quickly diagnose the patient. UPMC, for example, has partnerships with hospitals across the state in rural areas and can provide virtual emergency diagnoses for patients. Other times, health care workers use this technology while working remotely in mobile medical vans or clinics. Having the technology to contact a doctor or specialist especially in emergency cases can be lifesaving.


For many patients, telemedicine has a positive impact. Come prepared to your appointment by having your questions ready to discuss with the doctor, and take the call in a comfortable and quiet place with good lighting. Take advantage of telemedicine options when the situation is best, and put your health first. Connect with your doctor with any questions and to see if telemedicine seems right for you.

To learn more about UPMC and Makin Wellness, visit their respective websites: and

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