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It Takes a Village: How Online Forms Can Foster Collaboration in School Health Care

To paraphrase a famous African proverb, looking after the well-being of the young is a responsibility too large for parents to handle alone. The wider community must band together to nurture its children toward healthy, productive adulthood.

If you are a school nurse, guidance counselor, school social worker, or other school health services staff member, you are especially poised to help children stay healthy or treat injuries and illnesses. Your combination of health care qualifications and access to parents, teachers, and physicians uniquely enables you to coordinate adults toward the common goal of keeping students healthy.

Uniting the Village for Students’ Mental and Physical Health

In the United States, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has put together a framework known as Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC). This initiative seeks “integration and collaboration between education leaders and health sectors to improve each child’s cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development.” 

The successful application of the WSCC model depends on communication between the community and school and among teachers and school health care providers. With the right resources in place, parents can request preventive services, teachers can refer students to physicians or mental health counselors and providers can brief one another on a child’s prior treatment. Online forms are a powerful way to link students with the care they need. 

Online Forms: Tools for Health Collaboration

Today, any healthcare encounter begins with an intake form of some kind. By going paperless with your forms, you can serve your students better. First of all, you will free up one-on-one time with students because you will no longer need to file papers. Second, online forms make it easy to consolidate information so that you can report back to the parents and teacher or forward information to the next school (e.g., elementary to middle, middle to high school).

Before you proceed with moving more information online, be sure to assess your readiness to store health data securely (especially if you’re governed by HIPAA where you’ll need HIPAA-compliant forms). 

Let’s consider a few examples:

  • Mental Health Counseling
    This template for a Child Intake Form allows parents/guardians to consent to behavioral counseling for children under 18. It also captures background information for the child’s mental health matter so that the child can be matched with the appropriate school psychologist. In a university setting, students over 18 can self-refer to mental health services using a Psychology Intake Form.
  • Health Services for Student Athletes
    Was a student hurt on the playing field? The school nurse who is providing first aid can facilitate follow-up treatment using a Sports Therapy Consultation Form and possibly a Massage Health History Form.
  • Care Outside of School or at a New School
    A Physician Verification Form is an excellent tool to allow the school physician to relay findings to the student’s family physician. This can enhance treatment by eliminating the need for repeated testing. Similarly, a Disability Verification Form can prepare staff at the next stage of education (e.g., high school, university) for any physical, social or intellectual accommodations the student may need.
  • Insurance Enrollment and Claim Forms
    Although many school-based basic health services are not billed to the parent, some university-based services may require insurance. Universities that offer health insurance can digitize insurance plan signup by customizing a Medical Insurance Form template. When necessary, claims can be handled using a Claim Information Form or Member Reimbursement Form.

Students have to be healthy in mind and body if they are going to succeed in academics. Ensuring they are cared for—whether preventing or treating—requires fluid communication throughout the village of parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and medical staff. Because online forms can be made available on school websites as well as promoted by email and social media, they are one of the fastest ways for adults to connect students with the health care they need.

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