The end of the Spring 2011 semester started the revolution against the once prevalent two-hour hold time to make an appointment at the Klotz Student Health Center, which is now offering online appointment scheduling.
“I think (online appointments) will make student’s lives easier with their busy schedules,” said Sharon Aronoff, Klotz Center educator. “Students can make appointments at 3 a.m. from home instead of having to call while we are open.”
Not only does this new system allow students to make appointments, but it will also send email reminders about appointments and allow students to cancel or reschedule appointments at any time.
The health center is still trying to get the word out about this new system. There is a button on their website that links to the appointment-making page along with bookmark handouts and soon-to-be electronic banners around school.
“I went to the (health center’s) homepage to look for the phone number and found the information about online appointments instead,” senior Alexis Vilkas said. “It’s great because there is no wait and you can find out immediately what time slot is available and which doctor you will meet with.”
Online appointments are not currently available for all appointments, however.
“If someone is making a general dentist appointment, they can do that online,” Aronoff said. “However, anything beyond a general appointment requires a phone call because we need more information on the specific problem.”
Although it can be more convenient to go online, some believe a human voice on the other end is more important.
“I prefer to either call to make an appointment or go in person,” said sophomore Nathalie Ramirez. “I don’t think I would ever go online because I like being able to ask questions.”
First year graduate student Jasmin Nikzad agreed.
“I prefer to talk to people and get advice or ask questions rather then go online; I’m very anti-technology,” Nikzad said.
Amy Reichbach, clinical patient health educator at the student health center, can see both the good and the bad with online appointments.
“I felt so sorry for students who had to wait by the phone for appointments,” she said. “Now they can go home and make an appointment whenever they want and that appeals to me.”
On the other hand, calling can be beneficial for people that are unsure who they should see, Reichbach added.
“One time I had a student who came to me hoping for birth control pills and I can’t do that,” she said. “It was an hour and a half appointment that someone else could have had if the student had gone to the right person.”
Along with online appointments, the online package will also allow patients to receive lab work and send secure messages to their medical provider for small questions.
“There are so many nuances for whether communication should be online or over the phone,” Aronoff said. “It’s case by case.”
If the lab is concerned with the results or there will be follow up questions, communication would not happen over the Internet, Aronoff said.
“The portal was not meant to replace communication, it is meant to enhance it,” she added.
Online appointments are still fairly new, but Aronoff hopes that by October they will notice a difference in how patients are making appointments.