The Medical and Counseling Center implemented a comprehensive telehealth program, offering four free online medical and counseling appointments to enrolled undergraduate students per semester, making ACU the first in the nation to do so.
Beginning in January 2018, MACC partnered with TimelyMD to launch a telehealth program for students to receive virtual, on-demand medical care called Wildcat Care. In mid-September, Wildcat Care is also expanding to offer on-demand virtual counseling. Luke Hejl, founder and CEO of TimelyMD, said the beginning of the partnership with ACU started through administration.
“The idea started with conversations through ACU administration,” Hejl said. “Our primary object was to provide students at ACU with easier access to healthcare.”
TimelyMD has played a major role in equipping ACU to reach the student population for needs of healthcare from a larger platform. Chris Clark, co-founder of TimelyMD, also said the company’s goals through Wildcat Care include reaching all of the student body.
“We are excited to see how we can improve the overall health of the students,” Clark said. “We love hearing the stories of students getting help faster or having the ability to access medical care in a more timely manner.”
Undergraduate students attending ACU are eligible for four live, online video consultations with a certified medical provider without cost each semester. The service is convenient and available 24/7. Cindy Gravitt, Practice Manager at ACU Medical Clinic, said the new program and will offer ACU a variety of benefits.
“The reason we added the option of Telehealth is because we didn’t have a good solution for nights and weekends,” Gravitt said. “Obviously, the clinic can’t stay open 24/7, and the only other option was for students to have to go to an expensive urgent care facility or an E.R. We wanted to provide more access to medical care in Abilene at a reasonable price, and our hope is that we will keep students from having to make any unnecessary urgent care or E.R. visits.”
Within the first 90 days of implementation, Wildcat Care increased campus healthcare utilization by 30 percent and, of the total Wildcat Care visits, 26 percent occurred after-clinic hours or on weekends. The biggest benefit of Wildcat Care was shown during the 2017-18 flu season, when the virus reported at ACU went down by 15 percent as more students sought timely care and virtual visits.
“We feel like it has increased access to students for them to get care, especially during peak seasons of illness on campus,” Gravitt said.
While all undergraduates have access to Wildcat Care medical and counseling visits at no cost, graduate students can opt into the Wildcat Care telehealth program for a fee of $95 per semester. ACU online students can also opt-in for a set rate per term. In-clinic visits are now only $10 for students.
“Visits last year used to be $40, so for students it is a lot less expensive than it was before and it is by far less expensive than going to a provider in the community,” Gravitt said. “We only exist to serve students in the ACU community. So to do that best, we wanted to remove any barrier that would delay care and prevent students from coming in.”