When college students get sick away from home, they most likely head to the emergency rooms of their local hospitals first. For these students, seeing their primary care providers may not be an option, and the need to see a doctor after usual clinic hours may result in a trip to the emergency room, with an expensive bill.
Telehealth as a cost-effective and timely solution for student care
A recent study from Kaiser Permanente revealed that the average wait time for a 20-minute doctor visit is approximately two hours. This often leads to delayed or missed care, with two out of three people saying their schedules don’t always allow them to seek treatment. Telehealth is a simple solution to mitigate high in-person healthcare costs and long wait times for visits.
According to a recent study by UnitedHealth Group, approximately 18 million emergency department (ED) visits each year are avoidable, and could potentially lead to $32 million in savings. These avoidable visits usually consisted of cold symptoms, such as cough, flu, sore throat, or upper respiratory infections, with an average cost of $2,032. The average cost to treat these symptoms at an urgent care clinic ($193) or primary care provider ($167) is significantly lower. However, telehealth can be an effective and cost-efficient alternative, especially for college students away from home.
How ACU uses telehealth to support its campus clinic
During its ongoing partnership with TimelyCare, Abilene Christian University (ACU) has been able to reach students via telehealth, while improving overall healthcare utilization by 36%. Telehealth enabled ACU’s campus clinic to improve patient flow and in-person visit availability. By implementing the WildcatCare platform, ACU accommodates students’ busy schedules, with 46% of visits occurring after hours or on weekends.
“Our learnings have been that when you refer students off-campus, they just don’t go,” said Mark Lewis, dean of students at ACU. “Then, you have a student who isn’t getting the services he or she needs to stay successful at school.”
Meet the needs of today’s students with care where they are
Telehealth, for both medical and mental health, is a simple and convenient healthcare option for students with busy schedules and limited budgets. The majority of college students are Generation Z and are tech-savvy and more likely to speak out on mental health issues than any previous generation. By providing students with 24/7/365 on-demand medical and mental healthcare via phone or video, universities can meet students where they are.