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HUHS Saw Fewer Virtual Appointments, Mental Health Visits in FY 2023

Harvard University Health Services is located inside Smith Campus Center. HUHS reported a decrease in the number of virtual patient visits last year in its annual report.
Harvard University Health Services is located inside Smith Campus Center. HUHS reported a decrease in the number of virtual patient visits last year in its annual report. By Kai R. McNamee
By Alex Chou and Camilla J. Martinez, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard University Health Services reported a decrease in the number of virtual patient visits in the 2023 fiscal year compared to 2022, according to the healthcare provider’s annual report published Wednesday.

According to the report, of the 119,000 total visits in FY 2023, 20 percent — or around 24,000 — were conducted via telemedicine, a slight decline from FY 2022, during which telemedicine accounted for 23 percent of visits. The report indicates the Physical Therapy Department returned to fully onsite treatment — and experienced a five percent increase in visits — last year.

In response to student frustrations about inadequate mental health resources, HUHS has grown its digital care offerings, including the addition of TimelyCare — a teletherapy and health coaching platform — in October 2022.

Over the report period, TimelyCare saw nearly 2,500 student registrations and 5,500 total visits, including telepsychiatry and health coaching appointments. As student options for mental health treatment expanded, Harvard’s Counseling and Mental Health Service received just over 20,000 student visits, a decrease from around 23,000 in its 2022 report.

With an increase in the number of visits in FY 2023 compared to the previous year, HUHS continues to expand its staff with 58 new full-time hires, including a case manager, an additional podiatrist, two orthopedic surgeons, and nurse practitioners on the dermatology and allergy teams.

The expanded staff, the report claimed, will result in more than 150 additional appointments every month.

The report highlighted HUHS’s ongoing initiatives in equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging, including the creation of an EDIB committee and the launch of its Diversity Dialogues Speaker Series, “a quarterly series designed to enhance awareness and facilitate conversations and discussions around Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging,” according to the report.

The report says 50 percent of new hires and 59 percent of promoted employees self-identify as ethnic minorities.

The Center for Wellness and Health Promotion — which hosts workshops, services, and classes on individual and group wellness — experienced significant growth last year, engaging 1,700 student participants in Health Education Workshops and hosting 42 events led by Wellness Educators, a program launched in fall 2021.

The Center also reported a total of 6,800 Massage and Acupuncture visits as well as the launch of a new “neighborhood-based Wellness Coaching Pilot” to provide individual and group wellness coaching for students at the College.

This year marks the 125th anniversary of HUHS, and the report highlights the provider’s continued commitment to “university health services that take a unified approach, provide excellent services in an equitable and inclusive manner, are informed by the broader community we serve, maximize team effectiveness, and act as leaders in our profession.”

HUHS Director Giang T. Nguyen wrote in the report that HUHS “experienced many changes” and has “grown as an organization” over the past year.

“It has been a journey shaped by successes, obstacles, and lessons,” he wrote. “Through it all, we have evolved while maintaining our focus on providing exceptional care and public health resources.”

—Staff writer Alex Chou can be reached at alex.chou@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Camilla J. Martinez can be reached at camilla.martinez@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @camillajinm.

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