In the short tenure that we students have at HBS, it is easy for us to miss the many changes that occur year over year. Yet despite this limited perspective, many second year students will recognize the dramatic changes which have occurred recently at HBS Health Services, and many RC’s will likely see noticeable improvements next year as the initiatives for better health care delivery continue.
Over the past year, the Health Services staff completely revamped the layout of the small clinic in Cumnock Hall to expedite patient care and improve quality of service. To begin, the waiting room has been reconfigured and doubled in size. Not only has this change allowed the Health Services team to better isolate patients who pose a risk of contagion (you now only have to sit next to these hacking, wheezing students in class), but the new configuration has also enabled expanded uses of the space. During after hours, for example, the waiting room can accommodate both staff meetings and health information sessions (on topics such as nutrition), and it will be used in the future to host information sessions specific to Treks, enabling the Health Services team to provide information on vaccines and other travel risks to groups of students, rather than one-by-one during scheduled appointments. The team has also used the expansion of the front room to increase the number and scope of health educational materials on display.
Nearby, triage nurse Elaine Tribble also has a new base of operations. The triage area has moved from the back of the clinic to the very front, and now that she is stationed just steps from reception, Elaine serves as the point person at Health Services, handling phone inquiries and assessing the urgency of walk-in patients. With a close eye and ear on all the activities of the facility, Elaine is better able to manage and expedite the flow of both patients and staff.
Less visible, but equally important, are the changes in Health Services staffing and technologies. Dr. Bruce Biller, Medical Director of Business School Health Services, readily acknowledges that, “students have high expectations and little free time.” The addition of Dr. Don Perlo to the team and a revised caretaker schedule (that better corresponds to the times when students are not required to be in class) has helped to decrease the time wait time for available appointments. New systems that went live this September have helped to improve patient “throughput” time – electronic systems for scheduling, tracking visits, recording medical conditions and past procedures have all helped to decrease the average length of routine patient visits. Eventually, these systems will be integrated with related facilities such as the UHS Pharmacy and labs, so that the entire patient process will become paperless.
The challenge to continue improving Health Services at HBS lies increasingly with the students. Dr. Biller remarked, “I’m looking for ideas – call me if you have a problem or an idea. I want to know what students think, and what they believe could be, would be or should be.” He and Pat Light, Director MBA Program Support Services, hold monthly meetings with an SA committee (composed of two RC and two EC students) dedicated to improving health care provisioning and delivery. Past efforts of this committee have resulted in improvements such as the Monday morning walk in clinic and the expansion of access to confidential mental health professionals.
Looking ahead, Dr. Biller recommends that all students take an active role in their healthcare – from planning ahead for travel vaccines and prescriptions to identifying health problems early through routine visits and stress management. Most importantly, Dr. Biller adds that students can help one another tremendously by simply notifying Health Services if an appointment has to be missed. In fact, over a one month period, patient no-shows accounted for an entire physician-week; simply taking the time to call or email ‘I can’t come’ can have a big impact.