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Focus groups offer Boynton feedback

Graduate students met in mediated focus groups to discuss care needs.

In response to concerns raised during graduate student focus groups, Boynton Health Service has been making small changes like upgrading their communications and revamping the way international students are informed of health coverage at orientation.

Last fall, students complained to the Council of Graduate Students about the treatment they were receiving from the clinic. Many claimed they were not provided adequate follow-up care or were treated poorly. As a result, the Council of Graduate Students Boynton Focus Group Team was created.

The results of their findings were released earlier this month. According to their report, the goal of the study was to discover in what ways Boynton is meeting the needs and expectations of graduate students and in what ways it could improve its services to better serve this group of patients.

Led by professional mediators, each of the six focus groups met for a 90-minute session over the span of 10 days to analyze Boynton.

The groups answered eight questions that revolved around their experiences at Boynton and what they expect from their health care provider.

“[We wanted to] find areas of improvement with focus groups that you can’t find with surveys,” said Kathy Nelson, a fourth-year graduate student involved in the project.

The focus groups were separated based on gender including four groups for women — two groups of international students and two domestic groups — and a group for male international students and a domestic men’s group.

Overall, Nelson said the results were positive.

According to their report, students said Boynton employees are respectful and professional and liked the convenience of the clinic.

The main problem reported was that Boynton needed to increase communication, third-year graduate student Emily Combs said. The groups wanted an increase in cohesive care through more communication.

The focus groups made recommendations to Boynton, including an increase in information provided to them during orientation, improvement in cohesiveness of care, communication between visits and departments and shorter wait times during doctor visits.

Boynton has already started to make changes. Now, patients will receive a patient satisfaction survey within 72 hours after their visit.

“Timely feedback from those we serve is one of the most effective methods for improving our services,” said Ferdinand Schlapper, BHS director and chief health officer.

The clinic is also moving to an Electronic Health Record that will allow students to receive better continuity of care. It will allow for faster access to lab results through a patient portal and make it easier for patients to communicate with their providers, Schlapper said.

They are also creating an official health record that will include all immunization records.

Schlapper said most of the issues raised by graduate students in the focus groups were already in review.

“This feedback helped validate and reinforce the areas we must focus our efforts on improving,” he said.

The results from the focus groups were presented to different committees like the COGS General Assembly, the Academic Health Center Student Consultative Committee and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly.

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