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Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Telehealth?

Simply put, telehealth is using technology to deliver health care. Telehealth connects patients with providers and health services that might not otherwise be available in their area. Patients can remain in their communities, and under the care of their primary care provider, and consult with a specialist many miles away. Computers and monitors are used so that patients and providers can see each other, talk clearly and share information. This type of health encounter may not be appropriate for all situations, but is often of great benefit to patients, their families and hometown health care providers.

Telehealth is also used to provide specialty care to emergency rooms and in hospitals, and urgent care into schools, skilled nursing facilities and correctional facilities. These services may be available at various sites in your community.

The prevalence of direct-to-consumer applications for E-visits and video visits offer patients another alternative to receive care right from the smart phone or tablet. This type of telehealth is one the the fastest growing types of services.

Is Telehealth Safe? Is Telehealth Secure?

Yes. Telehealth has been used for decades and is a safe and cost effective way to access health care. Telehealth does not replace the healthcare you currently get in your community, but it can provide you with additional specialty services, guidance, and monitoring that otherwise would not be available in your community.

Telehealth uses secure systems to exchange information and protect patient privacy. It is subject to the same privacy rules and regulations as your regular healthcare services.

How Can I Get Access To Telehealth Services With An MUSC Health Specialist?

You can ask your doctor or healthcare provider about telehealth specialties which are available through MUSC Health. Several specialists are already seeing patients via telehealth in offices around the state, including: pediatric and adult nutritional consulting, pediatric specialties, and general surgery. Other specialists are available in many community emergency departments and hospitals in South Carolina such as stroke care, psychiatry and emergency child care. More specialties and locations are added regularly.

Does Medicare, Medicaid, or Private Insurance Pay for my Telehealth Visit?

Yes, in certain circumstances. Medicare and Medicaid currently cover many telehealth services. Private insurers also cover a number of telehealth services for their patients. MUSC Health staff can help you navigate payment for telehealth services.

Which Is Better: A Doctor Seeing Me In-Person or Seeing Me Via Telehealth?

Whether through telehealth or not, MUSC Health is dedicated to providing high quality healthcare in all situations. Deciding which is better depends on the specific situation for which you are seeking medical care. Certain conditions can be evaluated and managed very well using telehealth, sometimes even better than they can be in person. For example, having a dermatologist evaluate a skin lesion or rash using telehealth with a high-definition camera may be better than having your family physician look at it in the office. Other conditions may require a health care provider to be present in person, such as an abdominal examination that requires a hands-on approach. Additional factors, such as the availability of telehealth at a specific location, the severity of your condition, and the distance you would have to travel to have the doctor see you in person, will determine which option is best for you at that time. Telehealth visits are conducted to ensure the highest levels of patient privacy.

How Much Is Telehealth Used at MUSC Health?

MUSC Health has been using telehealth in a number of ways for many years. The MUSC Health telestroke program has seen hundreds of patients suffering stroke symptoms at their local emergency department, allowing those patients to receive brain-saving therapies that they otherwise might not have received. MUSC Health’s maternal and fetal medicine program has been serving the state for years – allowing expectant mothers with high-risk pregnancies to see specialists that they otherwise would not have had access to in their communities. Telepsychiatry services have been provided to thousands of patients over the past several years, and more recent telehealth programs have provided a number of varied services ranging from nutritional services to pediatric specialty consultations and general surgery evaluations. More programs are being added to meet the needs of patients and community providers.

If I Get A Telehealth Appointment, Where Do I Go For My Appointment? Do I Need To Bring Anything Special With Me? How Long Will My Appointment Take?

If your doctor offers you a telehealth visit, then you do not drive to MUSC Health. You will go to your doctor’s office for the appointment time where you will see and talk to the MUSC Health specialist through a video conference. You do not need to bring anything with you besides your usual items (photo ID, insurance card, prescription list) and you do not need any computer skills. Your appointment will take about the same length of time as seeing a doctor in person. While telehealth appointments work just like in-person appointments, it is a good idea to be on time (or early!) as multiple offices are being coordinated for the visit.