When demand for medical care dramatically increases, what’s the best option to ease the burden on our healthcare system? In the case of the current COVID-19 crisis facing the U.S., the answer is telehealth. Reports indicate that telehealth visits increased by 50% in March following the federal government’s push for citizens to utilize telehealth and avoid in-person hospital, primary care or urgent care visits in order to reduce the spread of the virus. As the “worried well,” those with conditions other than COVID-19 and patients with coronavirus have used telehealth services to access care, the healthcare system has more capacity to treat patients with the most severe symptoms of COVID-19.
For individuals experiencing symptoms that may be unrelated to COVID-19, the opportunity to meet virtually with a medical provider alleviates the stress of risking exposure to the virus. As such, telehealth services like TimelyCare have become a first line of response for patient assessment. With the CDC advising citizens to leverage “telemedicine technologies and self-assessment tools” to help adhere to social distancing guidelines, telehealth has become a normal way for all patients to seek medical care. And on college and university campuses across the country, telehealth is able to provide care for students, regardless of their locations.
Telehealth for Higher Education
COVID-19 presents a unique situation where college students are away from campus in different states, but still may need medical care. For higher education institutions and campus clinics, telehealth services can help eliminate concerns of regulatory compliance and state licensure requirements. Under normal circumstances with students on campus, telehealth can optimize campus clinic resources, help meet demand during regular hours for services and provide after-hours support when clinics are not open.
The benefits of telehealth for campus clinics and students include:
- Enabling a medical provider to remotely assess a student’s symptoms, while not exposing him or her to other students.
- Eliminating wait times for students who need to have an immediate medical consultation.
- Starting a treatment plan immediately for a student and referring for in-person care, if needed.
- Providing prescriptions, if necessary, for a student at his or her preferred pharmacy.
Improving Student Health with Telehealth
By assessing students with common conditions that can be treated with telehealth, TimelyCare enables campus medical providers to see students who require an in-person visit for more acute or severe conditions. TimelyCare works hand-in-hand with on-campus healthcare resources to optimize available resources and provide students with care when and where they need it. Following the implementation of Wildcat Care at Abilene Christian University (ACU), the campus has increased overall student healthcare utilization by 36%, while improving the flow and availability of campus clinic resources. Since Wildcat Care is accessible 24/7/365, students are also able to access medical care, in addition to mental health support, whenever it is most convenient for them.
“Adding TimelyCare to the mix so our campus clinic can accommodate same-day appointments has made students, parents and clinic staff very happy,” said Cindy Gravitt, ACU’s medical practice manager.
With the continued uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, TimelyCare has developed an interim solution for higher education institutions to provide students with 24/7 virtual care for medical and mental health support. TimelyCare’s Campus.Health program is an immediate telehealth solution that can be launched within 24 hours.
If your campus would benefit from the Campus.Health program or a customized, long-term program for your upcoming semester, please contact us today to learn how telehealth can increase the health and well-being of your students.