What is telehealth?
Telehealth allows healthcare providers to evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients at a distance using telecommunications technology. This allows patients to talk to medical providers directly, face-to-face, and access information about treatments for themselves or loved ones virtually from the comfort of their own homes. Telehealth helps reduce exposure to COVID-19 for both patients and providers and ensures patients who need acute or ongoing medical care are still receiving high-quality patient-centered care. This is a new service offered at UT Health Austin that we are hoping to expand and continue to offer for patients in the future.
Telehealth is a great care option for new patient visits, follow-up visits, medical monitoring, management of chronic conditions, medication management, specialist consultations, and non-life-threatening acute care needs. Most clinics at UT Health Austin are providing telehealth appointments. However, in-person appointments may still be recommended for patients if a physical exam needs to occur that cannot be done electronically or if there are immediate testing or imaging needs.
If you are suffering from a life-threatening condition or need in-person care immediately, please visit your local emergency room or call 911.
UT Health Austin uses a secure video conferencing platform called Zoom, which can be easily installed on your computer or smartphone. For information on how to install and use Zoom on your desktop, browser, or mobile device, visit here. For a video on how to join a Zoom meeting, visit here. Any standard computing device, including computers, tablets, and smartphones, with a modern internet browser and an internet connection, will work for your telehealth appointment.
To set up a telehealth appointment with a provider at UT Health Austin, follow these steps:
- Call 1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737). A health representative will then help you get your appointment scheduled with the correct healthcare provider.
- Provide or confirm an active email address and phone number for the health representative. Once you are confirmed for a telehealth appointment, you will receive an email from UT Health Austin that will include the necessary pre-appointment forms that need to be filled out prior to your appointment.
- Complete the necessary pre-appointment forms BEFORE your telehealth appointment. This step is important as your provider may not be able to conduct your appointment until that information is received.
- Receive a Zoom meeting invite via email from your healthcare provider that will include the date and time of your appointment and a link to join your virtual meeting.
- Join your Zoom meeting on the date and time of your appointment, and your healthcare provider will conduct your appointment
At this time, telehealth appointments are covered by most insurance companies and are billed the same as in-person appointments. Your bill will be mailed to the address you have on file, or you can access and pay your bill online through your UT Health Austin Athena patient portal. If you have not set up your patient portal call 1-833-882-2737 to get assistance setting one up.
Depending on the nature of your visit, switching to Zoom telehealth may not be the best option when working towards meeting your health care needs. In some instances, this will require contacting the care team prior to switching the appointment and this could require an appointment date change from your original appointment. Please give us a call at 1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737) and speak to one of our Health Access Partners or message your care team through the Athena Health Patient Portal to discuss your options.
Tips for your visit
Before your telehealth appointment, it might be helpful to have the following on hand to help with the preliminary discussion:
- A blood pressure cuff
- Pulse checking device
- A list of medications you are taking
- Your medical history
To ensure you and your healthcare provider get the most out of your appointment you should do the following:
- Create your free Zoom account here
- Go to a quiet, well-lit, distraction-free area
- Test the video, audio, and speakers on your computer, tablet, or smartphone
- Hold the device steady, rest it on a sturdy surface, or have a guardian hold it
- Keep the device 18-24 inches from your body so the provider can see you and properly diagnose your condition if needed
For more information about preparing for an appointment at UT Health Austin click here.
Patient Privacy Telehealth Statement
UT Health Austin takes patient privacy seriously. We currently use Zoom as our virtual visit platform. It’s important to understand the Zoom teleconferencing platform has multiple different instances with specific levels of security for each instance. Unlike the free and basic versions of Zoom, UT Health Austin uses a secured instance of Zoom intended to provide telehealth services that contain additional security controls. The virtual visit instance includes secure video, audio, and content sharing which uses high-level encryption technology (AES 256 encryption) to ensure connections between our health care providers and our patients. UT Health Austin has also enabled secure waiting room features, access control features, and transport encryption to ensure UT Health Austin and Zoom also have a Business Associate Agreement, an agreement required under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), to ensure appropriate privacy standards are followed to protect patients' health information. The Business Associate Agreement ensures that Zoom maintains the privacy and security of patient health information transmitted in the virtual platform to protect our patient’s privacy.