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Telehealth Ideas

  • Strong School Partnerships:
    • Meet frequently in person or via video conferencing with education partners
    • Provide program overview to key stakeholders, including how telehealth works
    • Plan, make information accessible, and work jointly on SBHC outreach efforts. Be sure to include connections with school nurses and counselors.
    • Consider how SBHC staff can stay connected to students. Connection and relationships are essential drivers of SBHC service utilization. Some SBHCs increase connections by working with the school to deliver food to families and participating in outreach activities led by teachers and support staff (i.e., video messages to students, parades, writing a column in the school’s newsletter)
  • Strong Student and Family Engagement
    • Use an online platform to offer “daily surprises” to students. To keep students engaged, one SBHC behavioral health clinician uses Google classroom to post a daily quote, coping skill, silly video, meditation, etc.
    • Offer virtual “office hours” as a time when students and parents/guardians can connect with their providers.
    • Use a variety of methods to reach students and families: phone calls, letters, social media, email, press conferences, and ambassadors.
    • Reach out to students and families proactively and prioritize students due for a visit to invite them to a telehealth appointment
    • Hold brief phone check-ins with students/guardians to assess urgent needs and arrange follow-ups as indicated.
    • Be flexible about timing. If you work with high school students, consider offering appointment times later than the SBHC’s typical hours to better align with teens’ sleep schedules.
    • Use email and texting to remind students about appointments
    • One SBHC reported morning calls to schedule same-day appointments
    • Telehealth may present additional opportunities for family engagement in care because children and caregivers may be home together.
  • High Awareness of SBHC Services:
    • Develop and implement a marketing plan
    • The SBHC Youth Advisory Council can advertise telehealth services via word-of-mouth and social media.
    • To generate telehealth traffic, post information about telehealth services on the school district website, send an email or text blast to students and caregivers, advertise services through school lunch programs, include information about telehealth services in school registration packets.
    • SBHC staff can create videos for students, sending the message that they miss their students and that they are available via telehealth.
    • Offer students quick calls regularly to keep in touch and maintain the relationship.
    • In one example, SBHC staff scanned enrollment forms for students with documented health issues, such as asthma or eating disorders, and then conducted courtesy calls to these students explaining how to schedule telehealth visits.
  • Consents
    • Include consents in the beginning of the school year packet
    • Integrate consent into the student registration process
    • Offer electronic consents
    • Determine whether the state laws allow waiving written consent. If obtaining written consent for telehealth is a barrier for patients, consider obtaining and documenting verbal consent.
    • Develop a verbal script for obtaining consent. Embed it within the visit template in the EHR (explain risks such as possible loss of confidentiality, break-in HIPAA, and risk of the visit with no physical exam or vital signs; document that risks have been explained).
    • Develop an electronic method of obtaining consent (within EHR, DocuSign).
    • Send consent and ask for a picture back of signed consent
    • One SBHC that offers online consent forms extended wireless internet access into the parking lots of its clinics. Families who do not have internet access can complete the enrollment/ consent paperwork in the parking lot.
    • Some SBHCs proactively reach out to students due for services to schedule telehealth appointments. In one example, a participant explained that before the COVID outbreak, only 5% of students had an activated EHR portal, which is a necessary first step for the SBHC to provide telehealth. Within a week of the SBHC closing, all staff received remote access to this portal and then called students’ families to help them activate their portals. This process increased the activation rate to 37%.
    • One SBHC staff member reached out to families that are having trouble completing the online consent to walk them through it.