Tulane expands telehealth to ease patient wait times

Martha Sanchez, News Editor

campus health leaders
A photograph of Tulane’s Campus Health building. (Rohan Goswami)

Tulane University School of Medicine and Campus Health launched a new virtual care app this August. The app aims to ensure students can be seen by a provider even if appointments at the Health Center are fully booked. 

The program, called Tulane Telehealth, is a 24/7 virtual service for non-emergency conditions like allergies or the flu. According to the program website, wait times are usually no longer than 30 minutes.

“It’s only been a few weeks, but we are seeing a lot of patients and it’s going really well,” Ragan Gankendorff, executive director of health system clinical affairs at the School of Medicine, said. 

La’ Tesha Hinton, director of community engagement and health equity at Campus Health, said students should first try to schedule an appointment at the Health Center, then use Tulane Telehealth if no appointments are available. Tulane Telehealth is not for emergencies or conditions that require continuous visits. 

Students sign up online or on the mobile app, then click “request a visit” to enter the provider queue. The service is staffed by on-call physicians who receive a notification when a student enters the virtual waiting room. If all on-call providers are busy, the student is sent to an overflow provider. 

The morning after a telehealth visit, a Campus Health representative will reach out to the student in case they need further assistance. 

Campus Health faced criticism last year after high turnover rates and allegations of a toxic work environment led to the departure of two department leaders. Healthcare systems across the country have confronted staffing troubles amid the pandemic.  

Plans for Tulane Telehealth were ongoing during that turmoil, Gankendorff said, and she hopes the program will be an example for the future of post-pandemic care at universities nationwide. 

“Tulane is really, definitely at the forefront of something here,” Gankendorff said. “I could see this really catching on around the country.” 

Hinton said 89% of students who have already used the program got a resolution on the call, and did not need referral to emergency or in-person care. 

Cost of the program is included in the annual Campus Health fee. Gankendorff said plans to expand Tulane Telehealth to employees are expected in January.

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