As America’s baby boomers are hitting 65 at a rate of 10,000 a day, and healthier lifestyles are keeping them in their homes longer, demand is escalating for a little talked-about — yet critical — health care-related job: Transporting people to and from nonemergency medical appointments.
It’s no longer enough to call a taxi or regular car service and hope that frail seniors can get in and out — or through the entrance of a doctor’s office on their own as the driver speeds off. For people requiring oxygen tanks and wheelchairs, it’s an even bigger challenge, and long waiting periods are often required to arrange for specially equipped vehicles. Those needing transportation and specialized drivers covered by their insurance often have to wade through another labyrinth of red tape.
As many as 30 percent of all patients skip doctor appointments, citing transportation as a key reason, according to a report by SCI Solutions, a health care technology firm.
Mr. Dychtwald calls the need “transport care” and said it isn’t limited to older people. Recovering drug addicts and cancer, dialysis, physical therapy and low-income patients are among those needing to travel to regular medical appointments.
Several technology start-ups, RoundTrip, Circulation Inc. and Kaizen Health have set up shop over the past two years to address this need. Each created an online portal that complies with federal regulations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and makes it easy to find, book and track customized rides for patients. Each company partners with health care facilities and transportation companies, which matches skilled drivers with patients’ needs. It even handles the insurance end.
Mr. Switaj used his health care experience and business skills learned from Boston College and Georgetown University to create RoundTrip, which is based in Philadelphia. Now, a patient or social worker can log onto the RoundTrip portal and book a ride. The patient receives phone calls or texts, with real-time updates on the status of the ride, which can cost up to 40 percent less than a taxi voucher, be booked in about a minute and be tracked from start to finish, said Mr. Switaj. He said the no-show rate for medical facilities using his portal was less than 4 percent.
Circulation, based in Boston, has grown rapidly since it started in 2016. It partners with 95 health care providers (many of which have dozens of locations) in 45 states, up from three facilities in three states in 2016. John Brownstein, a professor at Harvard Medical School and chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital, came up with the idea for Circulation after the success of Uber Health, another program he created in 2014.
Plans are underway to expand Circulation into transporting prescriptions, medical equipment, laboratory collections and other health-related products, Mr. Brownstein said.
Morrissey, J. (2018, August 9). Companies respond to an urgent health care need: Transportation. The New York Times. Retrieved September 23, 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/09/business/health-care-transportation.html.
The people we researched were really pointed to this idea of “transporting people to and from nonemergency medical appointments” as a problem, and this article addresses a service solution to it. Also points out the problem is not just for older adults but the stakeholders are more expansive. It also discusses why missing doctor appointments is such a big deal, not only for health of patients but it also can cost the medical industry lots of money for missed appointments. These two service solutions discussed, RoundTrip and Circulation Inc. partner with medical facilities as well as take care of insurance on the user’s end. So in this way, it keeps out issues like cost, vehicles not being equipped for things like wheelchairs, and the time it takes to wait for public transportation. Partnering with the hospitals in this way seems ideal. A participant in our research brought up an idea to have businesses who host events be the ones who provide transportation to those events. This seems along the same lines and could be something to explore.