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Catalyzing the Convergence of Healthcare & Education

By July 29, 2020July 13th, 2021No Comments

“While the Covid-19 pandemic is challenging many nations, local economies, businesses, and other segments of our global community, it is also providing fantastic opportunities not to ‘return to normalcy’ but to create an entirely new normal that can surpass the ‘old normal.’  It only requires the vision and temerity for our leaders and administrators to create a new vision of how we do things, and to see the opportunities.”

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As the world grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic there are a number of changes to our world that many of us are both seeing as challenging as well as advantageous.

  • Many businesses have shifted to remote working, and as a result, found significant benefits.
  • Telemedicine is another example, as many healthcare organizations found themselves forced to accelerate the implementation of telemedicine both to meet patient needs, but also for sheer economic survival.
  • Conversely, many businesses such as restaurants have been forced to close, or shifting to take-out as a way to keep revenue flowing as regulations force them to stop patrons from dining in their establishments.
  • The jury is still out on schools.  Teachers shifted to remote classes or cancelled classes in the spring, hoping for a temporary challenge to contend with, but now that the next academic year is looming and the pandemic persists, the reality has kicked-in that a ‘return to normal’ is highly likely out of the question for the foreseeable future.  Some States in the U.S. have already declared complete closure of school until January of 2021 at the earliest, only offering remote “Virtual” classes.

A number of school administrators have recognized the opportunity to reinvent the academic framework to move beyond the conventional bricks-and-mortar classroom model to incorporate entirely new approaches that embrace remote learning.  These ‘visionaries’ may be enabling their students to most likely to not only survive, but thrive in the future.

School has historically been an important place where students learn to socialize, find safety and comfort in connecting with their peers, and perhaps even a place where they find the adult support they lack at home. However, as educators, counsellors, and psychologists all recognize school is much more than simply academic, this is creating a significant challenge in the new, evolving models of education. The conventional model was based on the teacher or school counselor seeing each student, face-to-face, in the classroom, the hallway, or in a private meeting.  This too needs to evolve, and may provide an opportunity for healthcare organizations.

The the use of telemedicine healthcare organizations may be in a great position to meet the needs of schools in screening or assessing students for anxiety, depression, anger, bullying, social determinant challenges, or worst-case, suicide ideation.  Conventionally the domain of the primary care provider when meeting with a patient, telemedicine may provide an opportunity for local healthcare organizations to converge with the needs of schools in the community.  This is the premise behind School Based Health Centers (SBHCs).  But for a host of reasons, not every school is able to institute such a visionary model of supporting the needs of youth and their families.

Because the Affordable Care Act in many U.S. states, and most insurers including Medicaid and commercial insurers reimburse for screening / assessing youth for mental health issues as well as treating those in need (refer to CPT code 96127), this convergence can not only enhance the care of youth, but increase revenues in the process.  This means that local healthcare organizations may be able to serve a similar purpose without formally establishing an SBHC if doing so is problematic.

While the Covid-19 pandemic is challenging many nations, local economies, businesses, and other segments of our global community, it is also providing fantastic opportunities not to ‘return to normalcy’ but to create an entirely new normal that can surpass the ‘old normal.’  It only requires the vision and temerity for our leaders and administrators to create a new vision of how we do things, and to see the opportunities.

In this new vision, let’s use creativity and  ingenuity to enhance the opportunities that are at our fingertips now. ’  Leaders and administrators assist in creating a new vision of how we do things.