Date of Award

6-2017

Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Melinda Goldner

Language

English

Abstract

Telemedicine has been proposed as a mechanism to provide health care over a distance through telecommunication technologies. Through this platform, providers can deliver preventative, diagnostic, and therapeutic services, in addition to patient education and assistance with self-treatment. The most prevalent model in the industry is using telemedicine as a first-contact emergency medical service for acute illness. This study investigates the potential application of telemedicine in providing emergency medicine for college student populations in higher-level education settings. Based on prior review of the body of literature, college students are found to be generally healthy but face disparities in accessing health care largely depending upon socioeconomic background; however, little has been previously written about community college student health specifically. Interviews were conducted with three college health providers from a four-year college and a community college in the eastern United States to assess how telehealth services may address the health needs of their respective student populations. Additionally, interviews were conducted with two administrative staff from a regionally based telemedicine company to evaluate its telehealth models for college health. The qualitative data suggest telemedicine can be an effective tool for increasing access to care on college campuses, especially in addressing the ambulatory conditions that commonly define college populations. Telemedicine services can provide affordable supplemental services for four-year colleges that provide health services during the hours the health centers are closed. However, it is unclear if telemedicine would be able to function as a primary mechanism for a community college for the provision of healthcare due to financial barriers. Financial resources may need to be provided by the state to provide community college students with access to telemedicine. Further quantitative study is necessary to accurately characterize college student health needs beyond administrative reporting and to assess the potential factors influencing adoption of telemedicine.

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