National recognition program aims to evaluate school-based health centers
- School-based health centers now have a way to demonstrate how they benefit students and the school communities they serve through a new national recognition program.
- The School-Based Medical Home program is a project of the National Committee for Quality Assurance, a nonprofit organization that sets standards for quality healthcare services and providers, and it aims to evaluate how such centers serve as a medical home, respond to urgent needs and collaborate with other providers. It was developed as part of a partnership between New York City's Montefiore School Health Program and Primary Care Development Corporation, along with the New York School-Based Health Alliance.
- Administrators of schools that include health centers and staff members of those centers can learn more about the new recognition program during a Dec. 7 webinar.
According to NCQA, there are now more than 2,300 school-based health centers in 49 states, which often serve as students’ primary care providers. Advocates of health clinics in schools say that they reduce absenteeism by allowing students to see medical professionals on-site instead of having to leave school for an appointment or a minor injury. Depending on the healthcare provider or hospital partnering with the school, services are also sometimes available to the students’ family members or even members of the community. Opposition to such programs has generally focused on whether they provide reproductive health services.
“The NCQA medical home standards for school health centers do two important things: they confer validation from a national authority for the vital role played by school health centers in providing access to medical and behavioral health services,” says John Schlitt, the president of the School-Based Health Alliance. “Secondly, they provide an industry-accepted measuring stick by which school health centers can demonstrate the quality of their programs to their education partners, health care payers, and the patients and families they serve.”
According to a recent policy brief from the National Conference of State Legislatures, states have more than doubled spending on school-based health centers over the past 15 years. The brief also cites research showing connections between the presence of an on-site health center and higher grade point averages, higher immunization rates and use of preventive services, and decreases in emergency room visits.
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