“It’s almost become automatic.” E-health, a very welcome service for students during the pandemic
PSL’s student health service, which opened in September, provides students with access to free in-person and virtual medical check-ups. We take a look at the results of this hybrid policy, which has already proven its worth during a pandemic.
There are too many factors that can keep students from getting care or consulting a healthcare professional, including the cost of a visit, schedule conflicts, and concerns over finding the right fit. This is a group that should be able to easily access healthcare, however, to help treat everything from seasonal colds to severe anxiety. Students have been particularly hard hit by the 12 months of pandemic life and its consequences for physical and mental health.
With these difficulties in mind, PSL launched its new student health service in fall 2020. It offers no-cost access to a preventive care physician, mental health specialists, and a nurse via in-person appointments and a virtual option.
“The two services are very complementary, and were designed that way long before the pandemic,” says Florence Benoit-Moreau, Vice President for Student Life and Social Responsibility at PSL. She adds, “Previously, telehealth was very little used in higher education, despite being an excellent fit for the needs of students. They’re comfortable with digital technologies, sometimes even more than with in-person appointments. We partnered with Qare to implement the initiative, which launched in September. The partnership came at just the right time, offering students different ways of accessing care during the pandemic.”
Since September, nearly 20% of PSL students have logged into the platform, and more than 3,000 check-ups have taken place. For Kelly, a student in her 3rd year of studies at CPES-PSL, “It’s become almost automatic: if you have a health problem, you log in, you make an appointment, and often, there’s an open slot that same day!”
Accessing the virtual appointment platform is simple as a traditional web app. After receiving an activation email via the Qare platform, students simply enter their username and health insurance numbers to activate their account and make an appointment with a practitioner. More than 50 specialties are offered free of charge, with no out of pocket payments, from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm 7 days a week. It’s easy for students to log on from their computer and find a slot that fits in with their often busy schedules. The platform can also be accessed internationally (for students studying abroad or on internships outside of France) and during school vacations.
Students didn’t seem to see the point of preventive medicine. Now, we go beyond the goal of prevention to offer actual care.
Florence Benoit-Moreau believes that facilitating access for the student population goes hand in hand with a new level of awareness: “Remember how often we heard ‘take care of yourself’ during the first lockdown. Preventive medicine may be essential, but it was just a generic term that didn’t seem to mean much to students. Now, we go beyond the goal of prevention to offer actual care. Virtual check-ups facilitate this approach and help students take that step of making an appointment.”
During the pandemic, successive lockdowns have had financial and health consequences for students. The university has taken action to provide appropriate assistance (see article on "campus life during COVID"). The PSL health service is a cornerstone of these offerings, as demonstrated by Kelly’s experience. Like many of her classmates, she suffered a serious blow to morale during the October lockdown: “I had some rough times. I would spend entire days alone in my dorm room on conference calls. I was under pressure, I was afraid of falling behind and started experiencing eating disorders. I was able to schedule a virtual check-up with a dietitian without paying anything out of pocket, which is a real benefit, because going in for an office visit costs about €70. Most importantly, the dietitian followed up across multiple appointments and really reassured me.”
The virtual appointment option allows for medical follow-up via online or office visits. According to Fanny Jacq, psychiatrist and director for mental health at Qare, “We always encourage people who access health care through Qare to choose a practitioner close to them so that they’re able to see them ‘for real’ at the office, and maybe start a more traditional doctor/patient relationship.”
On April 7, PSL and Qare hosted a webinar with PSL students, faculty, and heads of departments to share their initial feedback. A survey will be conducted by the end of the year on these same audiences to round out the first results and improve the service by the start of academic year 2021.
- PCR testing campaign: Free, anonymous, voluntary PCR testing is available, in partnership with the Biogroup laboratory, from 2:00 pm to 5:00 twice a week at two different locations on the PSL campus. Registration form for on-campus RT-PCR testing
- Vegetable box distribution: In partnership with Linkee and with support from Région-Ile-de-France, PSL student life is holding food distributions for all PSL students upon presentation of a student ID. Distributions are held every two weeks and are advertised on social media and in the PSL student life newsletter. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- Discount on refurbished high tech equipment: As of February 2021, PSL offers students and employees a 10% discount on the entire catalog of refurbished high tech equipment (laptops, tablets, phones, etc.) offered by Ecodair. To take advantage of this offer: enter code PSLE1 (for students whose domain name is http://psl.eu) or PSLE2 (for other PSL students), or code PSLPRO for employees and researchers.
- Online library resources and open lecture halls: overview of the services offered by campus libraries and the digital resources available.