Why NEMT Providers are Crucial to the Healthcare System

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Why NEMT Providers are Crucial to the Healthcare System

There are two major outcomes that revolve around poor transportation in the medical industry: a decrease in the use of preventative care doctors, and an increase in the number of emergency room visits.  Missed appointments are one of the biggest frustrations for any medical office since they lead to lost revenue and wasted time. The losses that these offices endure are significant and it happens primarily due to one main issue. Too many patients just do not have reliable transportation to get to a scheduled healthcare appointment. Lack of, or undependable, transportation causes patients to miss routine appointments, or not schedule them all together, which can eventually lead to a very costly ambulance ride and emergency room visit. Additionally, appointment no-shows mean that a provider will not get reimbursed and according to one report, [1] this amounts to a whopping loss to providers of $150+ billion annually. This impacts all of us as it leads to increases in healthcare costs for everyone.

An analysis [2] funded by the Medical Transportation Access Coalition found that NEMT is a direct cost saver for Medicaid in treating patients with kidney failure that require dialysis as well as patients with diabetes that require wound care. This study also states that “NEMT more than pays for itself as part of a care management strategy for people with chronic diseases.”  The study supports the idea that missed medical appointments lessens patient compliance with clinical guidelines, which leads to complications and expensive medical services. 

Safe and reliable transportation has a direct impact on a person’s ability to stay healthy. According to a popular study, [3] 3.6 million people in the US miss or delay medical care due to lack of proper transportation. To deal with this issue, most state run Medicaid programs provide transportation to and from health-related appointments. Known as non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT), this service is offered to patients and healthcare consumers who face the daily challenges of getting to their medical appointments. This is not limited to the elderly. It can be anyone who has a chronic condition, low income, or have no access to a safe ride. 

The training and ability of the driver and their vehicle is also an important factor. Patients need drivers that can offer them the special assistance required to get in and out of the vehicle, including wheelchairs and stretchers. When transportation is limited, healthcare appointments are missed, illnesses go undiagnosed, which invariably leads to increased medical care and further detriment to the patient.  

As a patient, NEMT services don’t have to be expensive and are often offered at no cost to the patient. This can be a better solution instead of having to rely on busy friends or family members. To find out what NEMT may cost, a patient need only contact their health plan or managed care plan to see what costs are covered under their plan. Medicaid and Medicare recipients may be required to contact a transportation broker that your state or health plan has contracted with to manage transportation services. It may come as a pleasant surprise just how affordable non-emergency medical transportation can be.

It is clear that Medicaid recipients heavily rely on non-emergency medical transportation since they lack other resources for affordable, reliable and safe transportation to get to their important healthcare appointments. Research shows that the NEMT service is a cost-effective way to aid patients with preventative care appointments and low income as well as those with disabilities and chronic conditions that require more frequent regular care.

  1. https://hbr.org/2010/03/how-behavioral-economics-can-h
  2. http://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/156625.aspx
  3. https://mtaccoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/NEMT-ROI-Study-Results-One-Pager.pdf 

How to provide great service as a NEMT Provider

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How to provide great service as a NEMT Provider

If you work in the transportation industry, specifically the Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Industry, great service is one main aspect that will set you apart from your competitors. Not only will it make your company stand out above the rest, but it is absolutely vital for the growth of your business. 

One key aspect to ensure great service in NEMT is utilizing all of the resources available to you. There are many software programs designed specifically for the industry that will help manage your on-time performance from start to finish. You will want to have a resource that allows you to import your trips directly into the system. This will guarantee accuracy for the day ahead and ensure that your customers have a great experience from the moment their trip is scheduled, to the moment they are dropped off safely back at home. If problems do arise, you will want your dispatchers to be customer service oriented instead of focused on the logistics of the day. The right tool can help you handle the real-time changes and challenges that come up throughout the daylike add on trips, will calls, no shows, cancellations, driver call offs, vehicle breakdowns, etc. This will allow your dispatchers to spend less time on fixing errors and will allow them time to provide better service to your passengers and drivers.

Another way to impress your customers and medical facilities that you deal with, is by being proactive and staying on top of “what’s next.” One way to do this is by interacting with your passengers in advance of their trip to minimize the likelihood of a no-show. Many times, this will happen because your client either doesn’t know how to get a hold of you, forgot about the appointment entirely, or simply doesn’t want to go. Use a software that will let you send reminders to your clients about their upcoming trip and give them the opportunity to confirm or cancel. Once they confirm, continue to give them live updates on their trip when the driver is on the way and when they have arrived at the pick-up location. This will also keep your payers happy as they will know exactly what is happening with their clients and can prepare accordingly.

Providing accurate information to your payers, and in a timely manner, is another key step to having great service as a NEMT provider. Don’t spend the time trying to manage the billing on your own. Utilize technology to help maintain the financial health of your business by making it easy and fast to generate all of your billing. This would include broker billing, 837P files, CMS 1500 forms, paper invoices, and more.

Putting the right resources in place for your team puts them in a position to shine as customer service experts instead of logistics experts that are always stressed and under pressure. Making that change is what separates the NEMT companies that are trying to grow from those that are able to successfully do so!

What are the essential building blocks of a successful NEMT company?

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What are the essential building blocks of a successful NEMT company?

If you are thinking of starting your own NEMT company, there are a few key components to ensure the success of your business. NEMT services help transport the population of people that are unable to get to their non-emergency appointments. This type of safe and reliable transportation is in high demand for people with physical and/or mental disabilities, whether they are short or long term. For example, someone fresh out of surgery may not be able to drive themselves to their follow up appointment and are without a family member that has the means to take them as well. On the other hand, someone who is in need of a vehicle that can transport a wheelchair or stretcher will also be in need of this kind of transportation. 

If you are looking to get into the NEMT niche, there are specific certifications, licensing, insurance requirements, and software that will be necessary right from the start.  Your vehicles will need to be reliable and ADA compliant and you’ll also want your staff to be trained in all basic emergency care such as CPR and other life-saving techniques.

You’ll want to decide just how big your operation is going to be. If you take on too many vehicles and clients at once, you can get easily overwhelmed and your customer service won’t be adequate. 

Investing in a NEMT software to help cover all of the dispatch, routing, and operational needs like your billing and your fleet will be essential for the growth of your businesses. Using a dependable and cost-effective system will help you limit unnecessary spending on your drivers and NEMT vehicles by routing your trips efficiently. 

Start with a proper business plan and it’ll be more than possible to develop into a profitable NEMT business.