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Pediatr Ann. 2014 Feb;43(2):e33-8. doi: 10.3928/00904481-20140127-08.

Improving access to care through the patient-centered medical home.

Abstract

School-based health centers (SBHCs) serve an essential role in providing access to high-quality, comprehensive care to underserved children and adolescents in more than 2,000 schools across the United States. SBHCs are an essential component of the health care safety net, and their role in the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) continues to evolve as both collaborating partners and, when fully functioning, independent PCMHs. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports the use of SBHCs, citing the proven benefits and exciting potential as justification, but also offers caution and recommends a focus on communication within the community. Traditional "brick and mortar" SBHCs are more likely to be located in urban communities (54.2% urban versus 18.0% rural) and be in schools with more students, allowing for a greater return on investment. Current SBHCs are located in schools with an average population of 997 students. The need for a large school population to help an SBHC approach financial viability excludes children in rural communities who are more likely to attend a school with fewer than 500 students, be poor, and have difficulty accessing health care.2 The expansion of telehealth technologies allows the creation of solutions to decrease geographic barriers that have limited the growth of SBHCs in rural communities. Telehealth school-based health centers (tSBHCs) that exclusively provide services through telemedicine are operating and developing in communities where geographic barriers and financial challenges have prevented the establishment of brick and mortar SBHCs. TSBHCs are beginning to increase the number and variety of services they provide through the use of telehealth to include behavioral health, nutrition services, and pediatric specialists. Understanding the role of tSBHCs in the growth of the PCMH model is critical for using these tools to continue to improve child and adolescent health.

PMID:
24512159
DOI:
10.3928/00904481-20140127-08
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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