JANUARY 16, 2013 | [Eric Wicklund, Editor, mHIMSS] — Let’s face it: College students aren’t the most diligent people in the world when it comes to matters of laundry, personal hygiene or healthcare. They’ll gladly put off a trip to the campus health center as long as they’re not bleeding or ready to lose a limb.
This makes CampusMD such an intriguing proposition.
The Bethesda, Md.-based company recently unveiled a telehealth platform aimed directly at college students, offering them a direct connection via telephone, text message or Internet hookup with a doctor within, on average, 20 minutes. The $17.95-per-month plan is being marketed to parents, while colleges or universities can add the service to their tuition plan for $10 a student.
CampusMD is the brainchild of Devin Schain, who decided to move into the telehealth field about five years ago, after selling his third education-related company. A frequent traveler, he and his family had made use of and saw the benefits of a concierge medicine service, which helped his wife during a health scare. After a friend’s son, who was a college student, almost lost his arm to a staph infection because he waited until after the weekend to get it checked at the university health center, he decided to develop a program that would bring on-demand healthcare to the student.
“You’re bringing healthcare to them where they need it (and) when they need it,” he said.
Schain said the service has been beta-tested at four colleges and is now being rolled out to a wider audience. He said it appeals to parents who are worried that their college-age children won’t get the healthcare they need at the local health clinic, as well as to universities and colleges that can’t staff or keep open their health clinics during off-hours and weekends.
Which, admittedly, is when college-aged students – “young invincibles,” in some circles – tend to need healthcare services.
“It’s ironic that most health centers are only open 9-to-5,” Schain pointed out.
“CampusMD complements on-campus health services with immediate, affordable, integrated care,” he said in a recent press release. “Participating students have around-the-clock access to doctors who can treat more than 500 common conditions as effectively as with an office visit, but at a fraction of the cost. Institutions can extend their health service’s hours without incurring infrastructure or personnel costs. And parents gain peace of mind knowing their children will be cared for while they are away from home.”
The doctors are provided through HealthNation, a nationwide telehealth service of more than 500 accredited physicians.
The process begins, Schain said, with the students filling out a questionnaire, which is put into an electronic health record that can be shared with caregivers, ranging from the campus health center to the student’s primary care physician. When the student is in need of medical attention, he or she calls a toll-free number to schedule an appointment with a doctor. That doctor is guaranteed to call back within three hours, Schain said, with the average response time being 20 minutes. In some cases, the physician can also issue a prescription.
Schain has the numbers to back up his business. According to the American College Health Association, 56.6 percent of undergraduates (about 11 million) were diagnosed with or treated for an illness in the prior 12 months, with as many as 22 percent, depending on the severity of the illness, reporting an adverse effect on their academic performance. Added to that are the pressures faced by students – 51 percent, according to the ACHA survey, experienced overwhelming anxiety, 32 percent reported feeling depressed to the point of dysfunction, and 87 percent reported feeling completely overwhelmed by academic and social pressures at least one during the school year
Those numbers, Schain said, have prompted the company to plan to introduce behavioral health services this year, and preventive health and wellness services later on. He also wants to expand the service to enable students to schedule medical appointments with doctors for issues that can’t be resolved over the phone or online.
“CampusMD bridges the gap between institutional mandates to cover more students and the financial capabilities of the student body. It’s the right solution at the right time,” he said in the news release.