New health center appointment system speeds up service


People walk to and from the Student Health Services at SF State on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016. SHS implemented an online appointment system last semester. (Steven Ho/Xpress)

Students have found relief from overcrowding and long waits in the Student Health Center since the implementation of a new online appointment system last semester.

In the past, the SF State health center has struggled with overcapacity in the waiting room due to an online booking system that wasn’t designed to adequately categorize appointments by symptoms. This made visits longer than necessary and left students worrying whether they would make it to their next class on time or not.

“Wrapping our brains around doing online appointments took us awhile, but what drove it in the end was that we noticed that students had to come in and they were lining up,” said Carol Brewer, the Student Health Services admin analyst.

After the health center’s quality improvement committee conducted a study to determine ways to fix the overcrowding issue, the management decided to increase the availability of online appointments.

“So we took the plunge and we put 50 percent of the appointments to be booked online by students only,” Brewer said.

The department implemented the new system in January 2016.

Now, when students make an appointment online, a small window pops up asking to summarize their symptoms in ten words or less. This helped concerns regarding overcapacity in the clinic.

“I’ve never had to wait,” said BECA major Marta Navarrete. “I’ve made appointments online before and the longest I’ve waited to get called in was probably a minute.”

Since the new online appointment system was implemented, there’s been less crowding in the waiting room and students seem happier due to a shorter waiting time, said Stella Blankenship, a nurse at the health center.

The health center also introduced a new system called Fast Track, which was designed to address appointments for common illnesses such as sore throats, cold, etc. Fast Track appointments are no more than a quick consultation with the doctor.

“One time I came in and I was really sick and they saw me right away,” sociology major Billie Beard said.

Despite these improvements, the health center still struggles with office space and staffing.

“We could always use more,” said Brewer. “We have a problem with space as well. So even having more sometimes is not going to be the answer.”