In order to improve healthcare access for district employees and students, the Harris County School District in Georgia recently partnered with Mercer Medicine to launch a telehealth initiative, which aims to decrease absences and educational gaps by improving healthcare access for district employees and students. Previously, staff and students would have to leave the school and travel to clinical office settings in order to attend healthcare appointments and consultations. However, this frequently requires several hours, especially if the distance to the nearest healthcare facility exceeds 30 minutes. In addition to time constraints, research has revealed a strong association between student achievement and absences from school. Morgan Marlowe, the community development coordinator for the Harris County School District, believes a clinic that is school-based would be wise as it would enable pupils to remain in their school and amend the issue of a parent leaving work to tend to their child. The student would see the nurse located in school, and subsequently be scheduled for a virtual appointment should they require one . During the sessions, a nurse uses a telehealth workstation to take vital signs while performing other checks advised by doctors at a primary care clinic that Mercer Medical started as the faculty practice of Mercer University School of Medicine last year. Nurses have access to sophisticated equipment thanks to this initiative.
David Kay,leader of services at the primary care clinic, emphasized how useful remote appointments are ,stating : “We’re on the other end able to visualize all of the exam, interview the student, and then we come up with a disposition, diagnosis and treatment plan. This medical equipment is high-definition camera systems that honestly give me a much better picture than if I was sitting in front of the patient.”
The project allows doctors to call prescriptions into a pharmacy, typically the one across the street from the primary care clinic, in addition to the technical features of these virtual meetings. Also, for telehealth appointments, doctors can use student charts that have already been produced for all students and are available in the Mercer Medical EHR system. The availability of telehealth appointments is overwhelmingly positive, with a greater assistance to parents who are forced to leave their place of employment care for their child and seek in person assistance from their clinician, which consumes much of their day and time that was previously committed to work. These constraints are removed through telehealth appointments and parents who cannot leave work are receive assurance that their child receives thorough care in a timely manner.