In the past few months, virtual health solutions have been implemented in many hospitals and medical practices across the board. But what about the health care solutions implemented in schools? On university campuses? School is a place where many of us have spent ample amounts of our time, so it makes sense that there would be an avenue to access health services in these environments. That said, whether students engage in remote-learning or transition back to in-person classes – the need for a reliable resource to access health care is very much present.
Many schools rely on an on-site health care provider to care for students. For some, a school nurse or physician may be the best access to a healthcare professional, and the impact of not being able to physically access these resources can be substantial in some communities. So what happens when a school doesn’t have access to an on-site health care professional?
Some rural communities may face a wide range of challenges when it comes to accessibility of health care, especially in areas where it may be hard for a health care professional to be there in person. It is situations like these where digital health platforms could provide a positive solution. As stated in a study by Love, H. et al (2019), “In rural communities, telehealth can eliminate well-documented access barriers, including health professional shortages, long distances to providers, and lack of transportation.” Virtual health technology has the opportunity to bridge these gaps and allow better access to care – regardless of location.
Further, the access to a health care professional through school may be one of the few health resources available to some. A wide range of social or societal circumstances could contribute to this, but school is a place that shouldn’t discriminate and allowing access to health care in schools is important. With the purpose of telehealth being to improve access and reachability, it presents a glowing opportunity to provide health care to those who need it.
An important aspect to consider is the experience for students when they access health care. Virtual care appointments may serve as a more approachable way to offer health care as students are generally more accustomed to these virtual modes of communication anyway (Love. H. et al., 2019). The ability to access health care in a less intimidating low-risk format may be appealing to many young students. As one article states,“Research shows that students with access to care through telehealth at school show improved health and education outcomes” (Love, H. et. al., 2019). A virtual health platform can prompt this younger demographic to prioritize their health in a time when booking a walk-in appointment at a doctors office may not be a viable solution.
Above all, safety should always be the main concern. With the current global situation, providing a low-risk way to access health care is essential – whether it be in hospitals or in a school setting.
Love, H., Panchal, N., Schlitt, J. Behr, C., Soleimanpour, S. (2019) The Use of Telehealth In School-Based Centres. V.6 Retrieved August 4, 2020. doi: 10.1177/2333794X19884194