By Thomas Shaffer
When most parents think about healthcare for children, they envision sticky waiting rooms, missed work, and frankly, a terribly inconvenient experience. It’s common for the ordeal to eat up two hours out of a busy day—if not more.
Prior to the 2010s, and even the 2020s, American healthcare was extremely facility-centric. This meant parents had to visit in-person providers to get the care their children needed, even if it meant sacrificing personal time and children’s learning experiences.
Today, facility-centric care is quickly becoming outdated and unnecessary in many situations. Modern technology and evolved perspectives on healthcare are contributing to more patient-centric services, many of which are offered virtually.
This is especially true in the wake of COVID-19. If the pandemic taught us anything, it was that healthcare needs to meet patients where they are—not the other way around.
In terms of pediatric care, this means reevaluating how schools, students, and faculty access healthcare. Let’s talk about how modern healthcare solutions are improving access to top-tier services on school campuses.
Improving accessibility of primary care
Regular healthcare is important from an early age. Research indicates that strong access to quality primary care is associated with a range of positive outcomes in people of all ages, including children.
Students and faculty members alike deserve regular access to checkups from professional doctors, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants. Fortunately, modern healthcare, including telehealth services, is bringing these services directly to school campuses.
School districts are increasingly partnering with third-party healthcare services, which in turn connect campuses with reputable local providers. When more students and faculty have access to the regular care they need, attendance rates improve, as does general school performance.
Boosting mental wellness initiatives
According to the American Psychological Association, children’s mental health is in crisis—and schools are under pressure to do something about it.
Research from the past few years indicates a spike in rates of suicide and depression in adolescents. Psychologists speculate that the social isolation and academic disruption of COVID-19 have played a role in this alarming trend, as have recent social and political events.
School services are critical when it comes to keeping children safe and connecting them with much-needed mental health support, including:
- Emergency services
- Early crisis detection
- Counseling from licensed professionals
- Educational resources
Of course, children aren’t the only people in schools who are suffering from mental health concerns. Teachers’ wellness also took a big hit during COVID-19, and many educators are considered to be more at risk for depression and anxiety than health workers.
So, what is the role of modern healthcare in addressing the school mental health crisis? Primarily, hybrid healthcare solutions can increase essential access to virtual wellness assessments, counseling sessions, and many other life-changing (and potentially life-saving) tools.
Preventing school-based outbreaks
Whether the flu is circulating or COVID-19 is making a sudden appearance, preventing school outbreaks is crucial for general wellness and education. Considering that school attendance still hasn’t returned to its pre-pandemic rates, many schools are looking for proactive ways to keep kids and teachers healthy.
Fortunately, modern telehealth services can dramatically minimize the risk of outbreaks. Families are more likely to identify and address illness quickly if they can do so conveniently and at a low cost (or no cost). If sickness can be stopped in its tracks, outbreaks can be more effectively prevented.
Keeping costs low for families and educators
Speaking of low-cost services, it’s well known that most parents are worried about paying for healthcare. According to 2022 research, at least 74% of Americans are stressed about their health insurance costs. As a result, many people avoid getting the care they need when they need it—and that has an impact on schools.
If our society is to prioritize the safety and wellness of school campuses, healthcare needs to be both accessible and affordable for families and educators. That’s where modern healthcare enters the picture with cost-effective telehealth options and hybrid setups.
Despite concerns that affordable modern healthcare may sacrifice quality, research actually indicates the opposite. In-person healthcare is not the only way to access adequate healthcare, and in some cases, telehealth appointments may actually offer better care to patients—especially those who would otherwise fail to seek the help they need due to high costs.
It’s time for schools to join the movement
In an increasingly digital world, schools have countless reasons to adopt modern healthcare solutions for their campuses. From virtual mental health services to telehealth checkups, the future of healthcare is here—and students and faculty can benefit immensely from the evolution.
Organizations like Campus Clinic are leading the charge to make on-campus healthcare more accessible, convenient, and affordable. If your school district hasn’t updated its healthcare offerings, now’s the time to explore the latest options.
Thomas Shaffer is president of Campus Clinic.