Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

2021

Abstract

Background: Children and adolescents in the United States face disparities by race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, including unequal access to consistent and high-quality healthcare. School-based health centers (SBHCs) promote health equity by delivering primary, mental, and other health services directly to students in their schools. The COVID-19 outbreak in the United States resulted in schools and SBHCs closing their physical sites and pivoting to virtual service delivery. Methods: In the months immediately following school closures, school-based health center practitioners and sponsors participated in an online listening series to share how they used technology to creatively advertise services, engage with students, and continue delivering care. These discussions highlight challenges, opportunities, and future implications for telehealth and the use of technology in SBHCs. Results: With no or limited opportunity to interact with patients in-person, school-based health center staff used technology to conduct marketing and outreach and offer virtual care. Many launched telehealth operations for the first time due to the pandemic, whereas others altered or expanded previously established virtual service offerings. Listening session participants recognize the unique benefits of telehealth during and after the pandemic, but they also discussed unique challenges, such as privacy concerns and the digital divide. Conclusions: The findings outlined in this manuscript should serve as a baseline for future research and programs related to school-based health, health technology, and pediatric care, especially during global crises. Health technology, particularly telehealth, is a crucial tool to mitigate strain on emergency departments, administer screening and preventative care, and provide mental health care as COVID cases continue to rise. Enabling policy solutions, shared best practices, and supportive partnerships are crucial as SBHCs continue to find ways to help students remain healthy and achieve their fullest potential.

Comments

Online first.

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

DOI

10.21037/ht-20-30

Publication

Health Technology

Publisher

AME Publishing Company

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