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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

SHACS to text appointments

By Diana Chege

chegedia@grinnell.edu

Student Health and Counseling Services (SHACS) recently developed a program in which students can receive text messages reminders of their impending appointments. The new service aims to help students further manage their busy schedules at the College by making SHACS a more visible and accessible space. 

“SHACS noticed that our no-show rate was above the national average of three percent,” Director of SHACS Operations Deb Shill wrote in an email to The S&B. “During brainstorming sessions on how we could help students remember their appointments, text messaging was often brought up.”

While the service initially came with a fee, the approval of the Mental Health Task Force helped SHACS secure the funds and purchase it for the Electric Medical Records (EMR)system. 

The program is currently active. It is, however, an opt-in system in which participants have to choose to enroll. To enable text appointment reminders, students can log into https://shacscom.grinnell.edu using their college credentials, enter their date of birth and then click the box next to “Enable Text Messages” above the boxed text. SHACS front desk workers can also assist with setting up text reminders.

Once signed up, students will receive a text message reminder one hour before their scheduled appointment time. Although the process to sign up is simple, students should be aware that standard rates apply for those without an unlimited texting plan.

While SHACS has employed an email system in the past, this program promises to be different.

“Previously, we only had email reminders that were sent out the day prior to your appointment,” Shill wrote. “This new added feature allows for the reminder to be sent closer to the actual appointment time which we feel is an added benefit. We are hopeful that by adding this additional reminder, we will have less no-shows and in turn will improve our utilization rates.”

She further pledged that this progress will not end with text reminders. Within the EMR, there is an added feature that allows students to upload their forms. This way, students would be able to hand in their forms at their convenience. However, this program would have additional expenses in comparison to the text messaging option and therefore requires more planning and budgeting support.

“We are currently looking at how to make the New Student Orientation process flow better considering that students have to download and mail in certain forms,” Shill wrote.  

Regardless of what happens in the near future, SHACS believes that it is determined to grow and expand its services with more technological advances. 

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