A new software solution promises to help chronically overburdened school nurses get a handle on their caseloads, track reimbursable student health services, and even issue bills automatically to Medicaid.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Center for Pediatric Research (CPR) have introduced a web-based computer software system, called Welligent, that helps school nurses manage their caseloads and streamline their work process.

“The volume of cases many school nurses are trying to take care of is huge,” said John Pestian, CPR’s director of health informatics research. “Some are seeing up to 70 or 80 kids a day. Even the most well-run doctor’s office is probably only seeing 30 or 40 a day.”

School nurses, administrators, and therapists can choose to access either the Clinic, Billing, Special Education, Administration, or Report modules when they use the product to track and receive information about their students’ health.

The Clinic Module allows users to maintain a log of visits to the school clinic. It documents services, provides nurses with quick access to students’ health records, tracks individual health plans and immunizations, tracks and schedules medications, and allows for mass health screenings.

The Special Education Module helps nurses regulate plans of care, such as speech therapy or physical therapy, and tracks the progress of students on short- and long-term therapy programs. It also allows for documentation of both private and group therapy sessions.

The Billing Module electronically submits bills for low-income students or students with disabilities to Medicaid. This reportedly shortens the time it takes for schools to be reimbursed for care. Welligent billing experts, according to developers of the software, also help users by evaluating documentation to ensure Medicaid compliance, providing feedback and training to those submitting requests for payment, and helping to ensure billing accuracy.

Welligent’s Administration Module gives school nurses and administrators access to the software at all levels, and lets users create reports and develop standard operating procedures.

Finally, the Report Module allows school officials to keep track of health conditions and trends within their schools, across districts, or statewide, through charts and records. Using the Report Module, officials can gain a better understanding of the relationship between health and educational issues, such as attention deficit disorder and classroom success. Administrators also can track when and where nurses are most needed in a school system.

“This is the only web-based school health software out there. If kids move from school to school, their records can move with them,” said Jeanne Bowers, marketing director at CPR.

The makers of Welligent installed the software as part of a pilot program in Virginia’s Allegheny Highlands and Covington City school districts at the end of the last school year. Nursing staff members are looking forward to using the program in the current school year, according to Leslie Downer, nurse coordinator for the two districts.

“Welligent has been helpful so far, because now we don’t have to go to different places for all the information we need,” Downer said. “It’s also a time-saver for documenting mass screenings.”

Welligent can be installed through a school’s own secure internet web site or may be installed on a school intranet or network, making it accessible to all those with access inside a particular school or across an entire district.

Pricing for Welligent depends on how many students and school officials are using a particular package. If a school or school district opts to use the Billing Module, Welligent keeps 15 percent of the actual recoverable reimbursements from Medicaid.

To use the software, schools must have a Power Macintosh or Pentium 200 computer, an internet browser equal to or higher than Netscape 4.0 or Internet Explorer 3.02, and a network connection or 56K dedicated modem line.

For more information, call the toll-free number (877) 546-7516 or visit http://www.welligent.org.