It’s an exciting time for anyone involved in providing health care or non-emergency medical transportation. For those that are unaware, the U.S. department of Health and Human Services (HHS), recently passed safe harbor legislation that protects health care providers if they choose to offer medical transportation to their existing clients. In this recent post, we covered the many ways the NEMT landscape may shift as a result of the legislation.
One of the biggest changes we foresee, is an overall increase in the volume of medical trips provided (both Medicaid and non-Medicaid funded), as health care providers begin to recognize the value in offering this service.
A recent study by the Missouri Rural Health Association (MRHA), showed that health care providers received an impressive return on investment (ROI) when they chose to offer their patients transportation through MRHA’s HealthTran initiative. By offering transportation, medical facilities were able to lower medical costs and improve patient outcomes, but also dramatically reduce the rate of no-shows and resultant loss of revenue.
Leveraging the study in discussions with health care providers could help brokers and providers promote their services with this new customer base.
Read on to discover how offering transportation impacted health care providers in rural Missouri.
When it’s Easy to Get a Ride, Fewer Appointments are Missed
Often the burden of navigating transportation options is placed directly on the patients. If they don’t have a healthcare organization or other entity that can help them book trips, they will need to seek their own transportation. This approach puts an undue burden on patients, many of whom have serious medical issues to contend with. Due to the challenges of locating available or affordable transportation, many times patients end up missing their appointments. This means that the rate of no-shows go up, and that has serious repercussions for patient health, productivity and reimbursements.
A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Offering Transportation to Patients
Here’s an example from one Missouri hospital system that shows how offering rides made the entity significantly more revenue than they spent:
Over a period of 17 months, HealthTran provided 2,470 rides to the hospital system’s patients. The cost of providing these rides was about $95,000 (including admin and overhead) and new appointment revenue for patients that received rides contributed over $730,000. That’s an ROI of about $6.68 (or, said another way – for every $1 invested in transportation, the revenue earned was about $7.68).
The Potential ROI for Individual Doctors
It’s not only larger health care entities like hospital systems that can benefit from offering their patients transportation. Smaller clinics and individual doctors can benefit, too.
This scenario from HealthTran shows the potential ROI for an individual doctor:
If a doctor averages 20 scheduled appointments per day, with a 20% no-show rate, the doctor loses out on $156,000 to $236,000 each year (assuming a charge of $150 per primary care visit or $225 per specialist visit). Providing transportation for these patients through HealthTran would cost about $45,000. That’s an ROI of about $2.46 to $4.24 or, for every $1 invested in transportation, the revenue earned is about $3.46 to $5.24.
Attracting Health Care Entities to Your Business
The potential for growth in this market is huge, but health care providers may only consider transportation services if they are aware of the ROI. By sharing resources like the HealthTran study, medical transportation providers can strengthen their value proposition and start meaningful dialog with health care entities.
With Growth, Comes Challenges
Every medical transportation operator wants to grow their business. But with growth comes the potential for growing pains as operators attempt to provide more service with limited resources. As medical transportation operators increase their trip volume, scheduling processes become increasingly complex. A flexible, scalable automated scheduling and dispatching solution for Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) can help operators adjust to growing demand – without taxing administrative staff.