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As more people embrace virtual doctors’ appointments, UPMC focuses on privacy

PITTSBURGH — Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve all embraced technology to keep in touch with friends and family.

Technology has also helped patients get the medical treatment they need without having to leave their own homes.

But how can you be sure that your conversations stay secure?

“In the early days, the anxiety prone days of the pandemic, it was across the board. Everyone was seeking care via telemedicine,” said Dr. Robert Bart, Chief Information Officer at UPMC.

Since March, the number of people turning to virtual medicine has exploded.

In February, UPMC was averaging roughly 250 virtual visits per day. By mid-March, that number shot to 14,000 to 15,000 virtual visits per day. Today, the number is about 4,000 visits per day.

Bart said privacy is a top focus for UPMC. The healthcare group relies on something called HIPPA compliant technology. HIPPA is a federal statute designed to protect a patient’s medical information. UPMC’s virtual platform technology ensures that personal details are kept confidential.

“What we have that’s embedded within our electronic health records, the use and delivering virtual care is a HIPPA compliant solution,” Bart said.

The same regulations apply whether your visit is in an office or virtual.

Bart sees other patient benefits to virtual healthcare including providing service to patients who live in rural areas and might have a harder time getting to some appointments.

He said people are using telehealth options regardless of age, gender or location.

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