September 26, 2023
Public school districts do more than just educate children: they provide resources for the entire community. Many school districts are responsible for connecting families with both physical and mental healthcare options, especially today.
However, most public school districts in the United States are also stretched thin in terms of financial resources and staffing. This has made it difficult to implement healthcare and other services that students need.
To combat these issues, school districts need to think outside the box and look for innovative, cost-effective healthcare solutions. Fortunately, telehealth services and revolutionary healthcare companies are developing more efficient ways to do that.
Let’s dive into why campus healthcare options are so critical and how community schools can implement them in 2023 and beyond.
Right now, there’s a significant gap between the healthcare support that students need and the healthcare that is available to them. Factors like the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation have made it challenging to plan ahead and implement healthcare services in an accessible way.
It’s estimated that only 34% of schools in the United States offer mental health screenings and other critical outreach services for their students. These services were even less accessible when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak: only 17% of schools reported offering these services via telehealth during the 2021-2022 school year.
This lack of healthcare is hugely detrimental to underprivileged students. If these students aren’t receiving basic healthcare at school, they might not be receiving any healthcare at all.
While access to health insurance is improving, 5.4% of children in the U.S. were still uninsured in 2021, which means they likely don’t have access to affordable healthcare options.
Even children who do have health insurance may not necessarily have access to the care they need on a regular basis. The cost of healthcare is rising as wages have stagnated, and many families are foregoing trips to the doctor to stay afloat.
There are a variety of reasons why schools are struggling to provide healthcare and other forms of support for students right now. A challenging economy means that many districts are working on tight budgets, which doesn’t always leave room for healthcare services.
Additionally, learning structures have changed significantly over the last several years due to COVID-19. While most schools have returned to in-person learning at this point, there are still some aspects of school that are handled online. This has made it difficult for schools to train staff and implement healthcare initiatives that are truly accessible.
Schools have faced many challenges in recent years, but many districts are now starting to truly prioritize in-school healthcare options. Offering basic physical and mental health services in school is one of the best ways to ensure that students, their families, and faculties get the care they need.
When schools offer regular health screenings, they can catch problems like hearing and vision problems, asthma, and even ADHD and autism at an early age. This gives students and their families the opportunity to treat these issues early on.
In-school screenings, vaccines, and other essential health services help families save money on care, particularly if they are uninsured or underinsured. Additionally, in-school healthcare is much more convenient for busy working families that don’t have time to go to the doctor.
Additionally, successful healthcare initiatives can prevent students and teachers from missing school due to preventable illness or injury. Fewer absences means that students will receive a better education overall and ultimately perform better in their courses.
One of the best ways for community schools to implement healthcare solutions is to work with an education-focused healthcare provider in their area.
Working with a third-party provider is often more cost-effective than hiring healthcare professionals in-house, which makes it an appealing option for school districts on a budget. Additionally, many third-party providers can provide training for your teaching staff to help your health initiatives run more smoothly.
School districts operating on a tight budget should consider grants and other external funding sources to support their existing healthcare programs. There are many nonprofits and other organizations with resources available to support these initiatives.
Additionally, it’s important for school districts to familiarize themselves with local and national healthcare regulations, particularly when it comes to records and documentation. Many states also require schools to offer some form of in-person healthcare for students.
It’s crucial to make sure your healthcare services operate within the appropriate regulations. This is another area where working with a third-party provider is extremely helpful, as they can guide your school through the process.
Offering physical and mental healthcare on campus has huge benefits for your entire community. Not only will your students learn more effectively when they’re feeling better, but having care on campus also saves your community time and money.
If your district doesn’t already have a strategic healthcare plan in place, now’s the time to implement one.
For more information on this initiative, connect with Campus Clinic, a trailblazing organization dedicated to providing convenient access to healthcare on school campuses. They’ve already covered more than 600 schools and 650,000 students, and they’re ready to help your school find the resources it needs.
Thomas Shaffer is president of Campus Clinic.
We believe on-campus healthcare must be accessible, convenient, and affordable. We work with our school district partners to build integrated, program-driven, on-campus healthcare solutions.