PACE Transportation: What You Need to Know
The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) is a government program that helps ailing and elderly people get the services they need without going to a nursing home or facility.
PACE provides comprehensive medical care for seniors and people with disabilities who cannot or prefer not to leave home. However, PACE clients must still visit healthcare facilities for checkups and treatment. And they face one major issue: PACE transportation.
Non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) can help with this. In this article, we discuss the critical link between PACE service and transportation and how NEMT can make a difference.
- What is PACE?
- The Importance of NEMT in PACE Service
- Why is Software Necessary?
- PACE Transportation During the Pandemic
- The Importance of Efficient PACE Transportation
- Importance of NEMT Service for PACE and the Overall Healthcare System
- Bottom Line
What is PACE?
PACE is a government healthcare program for people with Medicare and Medicaid. It is an essential service for frail individuals or the elderly who have difficulty going to healthcare facilities for checkups and medical assistance.
It covers all services offered by Medicaid and Medicare:
- Adult day program (also known as adult day care)
- Emergency services
- Home care
- Hospital care
- Laboratory/X-ray services
- Medical specialty services
- Nursing home care
- Nutritional counseling
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
- Prescription drugs
- Primary care (including doctor & nursing services)
- Recreational therapy
- Social services
- Social work counseling
The PACE team may also recommend other services that may not be covered under the Medicaid and Medicare programs.
Who is Eligible for PACE?
PACE has certain requirements to be part of the program. First, you must be at least 55 years old to qualify and live within the service area of a local program. There are currently more than 100 PACE programs operating in 32 states.
Next, your state must certify that you are eligible for constant nursing home care but can still live safely within your community.
Those with Medicaid don’t need to pay to benefit from PACE. But for those who don’t qualify for Medicaid, which is primarily for low-income individuals, a monthly premium is collected for long-term care. There are also added costs for medications and other pharmaceutical requirements.
The Importance of NEMT in PACE Service
Transportation is an important element of PACE services. But because PACE clients are frail or elderly, ordinary transportation just won’t do. It must be a specialized healthcare service such as NEMT.
What is NEMT and How Can It Help PACE Passengers?
Most PACE clients need assistance going to their appointments. While family members and friends can bring them on occasional trips, non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) is the ideal option for regular appointments. This specialized transportation service has everything the patients need for non-emergency situations.
PACE clients with special transport needs, such as wheelchairs, stretchers, or even the basic chair that would keep them comfortable during travel, can call on NEMT services for a comfortable and safe trip.
NEMT drivers are licensed and trained to assist patients on every step of their journeys.
How to Contact NEMT?
PACE transportation through NEMT is often handled by brokers, they can send trips to their network of transportation providers through NEMT broker integration.
The NEMT software will locate NEMT providers and create the needed PACE scheduling based on each passenger's needs.
For those with coverage, Medicaid shoulders the costs of the service. There are also other programs for people with disabilities and senior citizens that can pay for NEMT services, but Medicaid is the biggest one.
Why is Software Necessary?
You may wonder, a PACE patient just needs appropriate transportation, so what does software have to do with it?
The answer is - a lot.
NEMT companies don’t just provide PACE transportation for seniors and persons with disabilities; they are problem solvers. They provide a holistic service so that patients remain safe and comfortable in their care and arrive at their appointment on time. Software makes this easy.
Here are some benefits of PACE software:
1. Automated Process
Everything is automated with PACE software. All processes can be done in just minutes and lead to the best possible solution. If done manually, the process can take hours, or days, but even in this case you can face human errors.
Transport scheduling is complicated. Drivers’ hours must be considered—there are legal limits to how many hours they can work in a day or a week. If there is an absence in the fleet, all trips must still be completed, and PACE transportation services for seniors must be scheduled as soon as possible. And besides drivers' working hours you still have to make sure your fleet runs effectively, you don't want huge gaps between rides and you still need to keep in mind how much time it takes to load passengers with different needs, drive from one location to another, etc. Without software, it is difficult to juggle so many variables at once.
Through PACE software, scheduling can be done weeks or months in advance, and adjustments are easily made. This is a tremendous advantage for the company, drivers, and patients.
Software also allows to find the best routes drivers can take. In one day, a driver has to serve multiple patients. Automated routing service means they will receive effective routes to ensure the patient gets to the PACE center on time.
NEMT drivers and dispatchers also receive real-time traffic updates to avoid delays.
Dispatching is done in advance, and they receive real-time updates on all passengers and drivers. If there are changes in routes or PACE scheduling, driver instructions are updated immediately so that time and fuel are not wasted.
2. Real-time Tracking
PACE software includes routing features that provide real-time information on the locations of all drivers and vehicles. This greatly benefits the NEMT provider, who would want to know that all of their services are completed and done correctly. Also more and more brokers require GPS compliance, which needs NEMT software to be used. This is useful for passengers who use passenger transportation apps to track vehicle location and estimated pickup time in real-time.
3. Intelligent Dispatching
Fleet software can prompt central dispatch that there are multiple patients in the same area. It is an opportunity to save fuel and maximize efficiency by dispatching just one vehicle for multiple patients. Manual systems will not be able to take advantage of such a situation.
4. Proper Vehicle Selection
Patients have varying needs. Some require wheelchair assistance and a special vehicle, while others just need a cane. Some have to take oxygen, while others may need a stretcher.
PACE software will ensure that the most suitable PACE paratransit is booked to give the patient the most comfortable and safest journey to and from their medical appointment. The same can be said for taking advantage of multi-loading opportunities.
PACE software like RouteGenie provides the above-mentioned benefits and many more for the provider, driver, dispatcher, and, most importantly, PACE patients.
PACE Transportation During the Pandemic
The U.S. healthcare transportation services market was worth $15 billion in 2021, according to Zion Market Research. It is expected to grow to over $24 billion by 2028.
The market also experienced a boost during the pandemic. Patients of all kinds—not just seniors and people with disabilities—needed transport to their healthcare appointments. Plenty of people had to get checkups and medical attention, which were not necessarily emergencies in nature. NEMT companies proved crucial as public transportation was not an option.
The National PACE Association ensured that beneficiaries received the necessary health support while staying at home. Medications were sent to PACE clients’ homes so they didn’t have to risk going to the pharmacy themselves. Nurses and other healthcare staff visited the elderly and people with disabilities.
Those who needed to visit healthcare facilities for urgent procedures were provided shuttle services that kept them safe.
The PACE service was so effective that a study concluded that the program kept seniors safer during the pandemic.
Some of these policies continue to this day as the NEMT industry provides specialized services and efficient transport. Today, patients consult with healthcare providers through telemedicine. When they have in-person appointments, they hire NEMT services.
The Importance of Efficient PACE Transportation
PACE gives seniors and persons with disabilities the option not to be confined in nursing homes. And reliable, efficient PACE transportation is crucial for them to get the care they need.
Check out the reasons why PACE transportation is vital:
Seniors Prefer to Stay at Home
As the popular saying goes: there’s no place like home.
According to the American Association of Retired Persons, 77% of people 65 years old and older prefer to age at home. This percentage has been consistent for over a decade.
They prefer this for the following reasons:
- They can maintain a sense of independence.
- They stay connected with their community.
- They don’t like change.
- They have everything they need at home.
Older adults will need assistance whether or not they have a chronic illness. With NEMT services, they continue living in the comfort of their homes and get the healthcare and medical assistance they need through PACE.
This is an important demographic that NEMT providers will service.
PACE program and Medicaid acknowledge NEMT as a critical element of their services. Medicaid plans include coverage for NEMT, which means seniors and those with disabilities don’t have to pay for the service.
Coverage includes transport to the doctor’s office, hospital, medical clinics, other healthcare providers, and PACE centers.
There was a time when transportation was considered a separate matter from healthcare. But over the years, it has become a vital part of it. After all, persons with disabilities and seniors need specialized transportation to get around.
Importance of NEMT Service for PACE and the Overall Healthcare System
Just because an appointment is not an emergency doesn’t mean it’s not important. People with disabilities and illnesses need regular checkups, so doctors and other medical providers monitor their conditions. Other healthcare needs include dental and laboratory services and minor or outpatient surgeries. And attending an adult day program is very important for seniors. PACE provides all these services and more. With the help of NEMT services, more seniors and persons with disabilities can get the healthcare they need.
Patients with chronic illnesses and disabilities need regular checkups. They also need special transportation to accommodate them. Hiring transportation that could meet their needs can be time- and energy-consuming. NEMT is equipped to handle these, such as wheelchair accommodation, stretchers, oxygen, and others. NEMT drivers are also trained to provide medical assistance.
For regular medical visits, NEMT providers could input PACE scheduling in their system so the patient doesn’t need to call them up each time.
RouteGenie's PACE software ensures that all drivers will be at their pickup points on time. If the driver is late for any reason, clients can be apprised of their location and estimated arrival time through the real-time monitoring system.
There are different meanings of safety when it comes to NEMT. First, the vehicle itself is made with safety in mind. As long as you partner with a credible provider, their fleet is closely monitored and inspected to ensure it passes industry standards.
Seniors, persons with disabilities, and others needing specialized PACE transportation can also benefit from NEMT services. And advanced NEMT software provides convenience to all parties concerned.
For those looking for reliable NEMT software that can also work with fixed routes for PACE transportation, RouteGenie can help improve scheduling, billing, routing, and dispatching processes, it’s a perfect all-in-one solution
About the author
As RouteGenie's Marketing Director, Yurii gained deep knowledge in the NEMT industry. He is an expert in marketing, utilizing all marketing channels to build RouteGenie's brand and to make sure NEMT providers have access to powerful NEMT software that can boost their growth. Yurii shares his knowledge by writing content on topics related to marketing, and the healthcare industry: medical transportation, home care, and medical billing.READ MORE