Colleges and universities must pivot to prepare for the decrease in enrollments and this partnership is a step in the right direction.
As someone with higher education experience as a chief financial officer and chief business officer, I know that shortly after the winter break colleges will begin planning for the Fiscal 2023-2024 budget. Some may have started that process already. The budget process often starts slowly but there is almost always a race to the finish line.
During the budget planning and development process, senior leaders should seriously consider setting aside a few hours of their busy schedule to research privatizing the operation of the campus health center. There are companies like On-site Medical Services that have a proven track record of doing so in higher education.
Following this model, some schools have decided to allow for students to be billed through their insurance as they would at home. Others charge a flat fee, although there has been an increasing amount of bad press regarding student fees and student health fees in particular. That said, private medical services providers can operate in either environment. Regardless of the model, some or all of the existing medical and operational staff can be retained if that is the preference and the preference of the employees. Williams College recently took a hybrid approach.
Why does a partnership like this make sense?
1. I know from my higher education experience that filling employee vacancies can be extremely challenging. This is especially true for specialized positions like medical staff. Health care service providers like On-site Medical Services hires medical personnel regularly and is well respected in the industry which provides us a competitive advantage. This guarantees a pool of qualified professionals who are ready to fill vacancies as they occur. They also assume the responsibility of making sure that the staff maintains the proper certifications, eliminating risk to the college.
2. If the college chooses to authorize billing patients, medical services companies will be ready to do so quickly. They have expertise in this space and can share their experiences with you. Billing for services will significantly lower the cost to operate the campus health center and in my experience will not be negatively received by students or parents.
3. This can be a white-label relationship. Although they will staff and operate your campus health center, it is still your health center. Companies like On-site Medical Services do not advertise their company at the campus health center or promote themselves anywhere else on campus (unless requested by the college to do so) and nothing about the student experience will change.
4. Medical service providers can often offer more services to patients because of the training and certification of the staff. On-site has even partnered with a college to extend services to college employees in addition to students.
Outsourcing campus health center services makes logical sense and as a result, there is a trend across higher education to do so. There are certainly differences in the service deliver of personal health care to food service, cleaning services, or a college bookstore, but in many cases those services were outsourced years ago for reasons similar to what I listed above, and the outsourcing of those services has been successful.
I am more than happy to explain in more detail how this partnership would work. Please feel free to email me or call me at the contact information below.
Andrew W. Maylor
National Director of Healthcare Solutions
On-site Medical Services