University Health Services will provide billing services and will credential health providers for the School of Nursing’s Family Wellness Center and Children’s Wellness Center beginning next month.
The new agreement follows the expiration of the nursing school’s contract with CommUnityCare, an organization that previously provided these services. UHS will handle these services at a lower cost to the nursing school, UHS director Jamie Shutter said.
“The percentage we take from the money that we collect from the insurance companies is much less than they would be able to find from a community vendor,” Shutter said. “If they tried to work with anyone in the community, it would be a profit-generating entity, and they charge quite a bit more for these services.”
The partnership will allow the nursing students and volunteers to focus on providing care for underserved populations and lessen the school’s financial burden, Alexa Stuifbergen, dean of UT’s School of Nursing said.
“It is very complex work to get reimbursement from Medicaid and private insurers, so we are paying the UHS staff who are already experts in that kind of work,” Stuifbergen said. “We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with them in ways that will help our students get the best hands-on education and provide care to those in need through our centers. We wouldn’t have a way to run our clinic without someone to help pay the bills.”
Nursing junior Megan Allen said the Wellness Centers are great resources for affordable health care in the Austin area and also provide clinical experience for students in the nursing school.
“Community Wellness Centers are really important both for the community and nursing students,” Allen said. “They provide a safe way for people of all backgrounds to get the care that they need and also provide the nursing students with an opportunity to learn more about what they’ll be doing once they enter the job force.”
UHS and the School of Nursing have partnered previously. UHS often allows nursing students to be put in clinical placements with UHS physicians to meet a consulting relationship requirement necessary for graduation. The relationship has existed for a decade and continues to make positive change, Shutter said.
“It is really helping advance the educational mission of the University to be able to partner with them in this way,” Shutter said. “Now we want to help them fulfill the mission of their clinics.”