Health Center adjusts to booming student population
With UH in the midst of its highest enrollment to date — nearly 41,000 students — on-campus facilities have had to step up their game to ensure students receive quality and timely service. The Health Center strives to remain competitive in the day and age of the Affordable Health Care Act while also providing for the tens of thousands of students that may walk through its doors.
“A lot more students are covered under their parents’ insurance than this time last year, so with that, we try to keep our prices low with knowing that you could go off campus with your insurance,” said Lindsay Barber, associate director of the Health Center. “We try our best to make it a one-stop shop for students, and you don’t really have to go anywhere else for your healthcare.”
Changes have been put into place to streamline the process of getting students and faculty in and out of the Health Center as quickly and efficiently possible.
Electronic medical records have replaced paper charts so that doctors can spend more time concentrating on patients rather than taking notes. A new portal, Open Communicator, will let students make their own appointments online and talk to their doctor or their doctor’s nurse about lab results and follow-up appointments.
“(Open Communicator is) going to help assist the students in getting seen between classes when they know it’s a convenient time for them,” Barber said.
Once only accepting walk-ins, the Health Center now allows students to schedule appointments. Walk-in patients are still accepted, and the appointment system helps the Center to have time to treat walk in patients.
“It’s based on medical necessity,” Barber said. “If you come in here and say you’ve had back or neck pain for three months and you’re just getting around to coming in now, you may not be as high on the priority list as someone who comes in bleeding or something like that. We tried to provide those spaces so that we’re not turning anybody away.”
While the Health Center is doing what it can with more students, some students are still wary of the benefits of going to the on-campus center. Freshmen health major Brittany Lawson thinks the Center will be too full with all the students on campus.
“I think the staff’s going to be overrun and a lot of kids aren’t going to go because they don’t want to wait,” Lawson said. “They could possibly self-diagnose and potentially cause other problems.”
The Health Center has its own pharmacy, along with a lab and various clinics including a Women’s Clinic, Men’s Clinic, Orthopedic Clinic and Psychiatry Clinic. And while the Health Center only takes the UH endorsed health insurance, a general appointment only has a $20 co-pay.
“The main thing in healthcare is that you want to offer access, quality care, and you want to do it at a low price, which is exactly what we have accomplished here,” Barber said.