Getting Started with Telemedicine: FAQs for Pennsylvania Physicians and Practices

Last Updated: Mar 1, 2020

Are you looking for resources on using telehealth during the COVID-19 emergency?Click on this link for more information.

Telemedicine-Doc-CartoonThese days, telemedicine is getting a lot of attention for its potential to transform health care delivery and offer services to underserved populations.

The question physicians and health care organizations are asking the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) is: “How do we begin the process of offering telemedicine services to our patients?” They want to know how to turn telemedicine’s potential into reality.

In this guide, PAMED’s Practice Support Team answers your frequently asked questions about what telemedicine is and what to consider before implementing telemedicine.

  1. Are “telehealth” and “telemedicine” the same thing?
    Not exactly – telehealth refers to a broad range of technologies and services to provide patient care and improve the health care delivery system as a whole. It involves a broader scope of remote health care services than telemedicine.

    Telemedicine is a subset of telehealth dealing with the provision of health care services and education over a distance through telecommunications technology. Uses for telemedicine technology include but are not limited to follow-up visits, chronic care management, medication management, and specialist consultations.*

  2. I sometimes see the term “originating site” used in connection to telemedicine. What is an originating site? 
    An originating site Is the location of the patient at the time the service being furnished by a telemedicine system occurs. And, a “distant” or “hub” site refers to the site at which the clinician delivering the telemedicine service is located.

  3. What are “synchronous” and “asynchronous” telemedicine technologies, and how do they differ? 
    Synchronous technology involves an interactive audio and video system that permits real-time communication between the distant site practitioner and the patient at the originating site.

    Asynchronous technology involves the transmission of medical information that the physician or practitioner at the distant site reviews later. This is also known as “store and forward” technology.

  4. What points should I consider before implementing telemedicine in my health care organization?
    Build an action plan with our member-only checklist created by PAMED’s Practice Support team:

    Get the Checklist

  5. Does Pennsylvania have laws that regulate and support the use of telemedicine?
    Not yet, but efforts are underway to make that happen. PAMED is working with stakeholders like the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) to advocate for legislation that would create a legal framework for telemedicine, establish safeguards for patients, and require that insurers reimburse for these services.  
  6. Where can I find more information on telemedicine and telehealth? 
    The Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center (MATRC) is one of 12 regional telehealth resource centers in the country. MATRC offers resources including technical assistance/consultation, and Pennsylvania-specific information on telehealth programs and policies. Visit

PAMED members with questions on telemedicine can contact our Knowledge Center at 855-PAMED4U (855-726-3348) or


Leave a comment
  1. Mary Toporcer | Sep 22, 2018

    This commentary is a gift for those of us interested and working towards the establishment of these processes.  Please keep the info coming!


  2. Garry Thomas | Sep 20, 2018

    telemedicine technology and acceptance has grown remarketly fast inthe recent past

    i belive it will become a mainstay for medical diagnosis for our patients who cannot be evaluated in office

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