Vehicle Telematics Revolutionizes the NEMT Industry

August 28th, 2014

How is it that we as Non-Emergency Medical Transportation providers are able to get so many individuals (many of whom are first-time clients), from their homes to their medical appointments safely and on time? How do we plan routes efficiently within a congested major metropolitan area? In addition to managing the basic logistics involved in picking up and dropping off patients within precise time windows, the NEMT team must also balance ever-changing schedules, traffic, and any unexpected challenges that may occur throughout the course of the day. The answer is “Vehicle Telematics”. Long gone are the days of thumbing through map books, and relying on memory, for determining the quickest and safest routes. Even in-vehicle cell phone usage is minimized. Today, an exciting combination of technologies is available which can revolutionize the transportation industry in general and NEMT providers in particular.

“Vehicle Telematics”, is a term applied to the combination of the following technologies:

  • Telecommunication
  • Vehicle tracking via GPS
  • Driver feedback
  • Fleet management
  • Satellite navigation
  • Emergency warning systems
  • Real time dispatch and communications
  • Management reporting

To better illustrate how these technologies can combine to vastly improve the effectiveness of a fleet of NEMT vehicles, let’s take you to a typical day for Bob M. a non-emergency medical transportation driver at All Points Assisted Transportation in San Diego, CA.

6:00 AM: Bob logs on to his navigation device and “punches in” for payroll purposes.

6:02 AM: Bob downloads his entire dispatch for the day. This includes 8 to 10 trips to either pick up or drop off individuals for appointments around town.

6:15 AM: Bob completes his pre-trip vehicle inspection, then selects his first trip which is a pickup. By selecting start, a detailed route is planned complete with turn by turn mapping and voice instructions to the exact location. Real-time traffic patterns are used to calculate an accurate ETA.

7:00 AM: Bob is alerted that road construction on I-5 will delay arrival to his first pickup by 11 minutes. An alternate route is automatically generated to keep him on schedule.

7:45 AM: Bob arrives at the first pickup location. Dispatch personnel at the office are aware of the driver’s exact location and activity each step of the way. Dispatch can notify clients of delays or changes as necessary over the phone, so that Bob can avoid in-vehicle cell phone use.

8:15 AM: The navigation screen alerts Bob that his off ramp is coming up in 2 miles. A visual image appears on his navigation screen, and a voice message alerts him of the approaching off ramp, and even tells him which lane to be in during the exit.

9:00 AM: Back at the office, the dispatcher receives an add-on trip that requires download to the driver. The new order appears within seconds on Bob’s navigation screen, complete with customer name, address and turn by turn instructions.

12:00 PM: Bob punches out for lunch break

1:15 PM: A patient calls the dispatch office that they are now ready for a pickup for their return home. The dispatcher downloads the request, along with the name, address, and turn by turn directions from Bob’s current location. Again, this process avoids in-vehicle cell phone use.

4:00 PM: Bob punches out for payroll purposes.

4:10 PM: Management can analyze total daily activities for Bob, as well as for the entire fleet. Management is able to customize reports showing pick up and drop off times, vehicle speed data, hard breaking data, hard turn events, idle times and MPG estimates.

The utilization of “Vehicle Telematics” technologies vastly improves dispatch efficiencies, expedites pickups and drop-offs, influences positive driver behavior and confidence, and improves the passenger experience while enhancing overall safety.

All Points Assisted Transportation utilizes TomTom hardware on the WEBFLEET platform. DispatchBot, a NEMT tailored software solution, is also integrated into the overall system. 24/7 Dispatch and call center services are provided by NEMT Solutions, LLC.

5 Qualities of Exceptional Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Drivers

August 1st, 2014

Customers, colleagues and competitors have frequently asked me: “What qualities do you look for when recruiting NEMT drivers?” An excellent question that bears careful consideration. After all, exceptional employees are the most valuable asset of a company, right? Drivers are the front line employees of any transportation company, and they certainly are in an ideal position to create a positive or negative experience for the customer. Drivers usually provide our clients with their first and last impressions of us.

With all due consideration, I have attempted to list the 5 most important qualities that I seek when interviewing and evaluating our drivers:

1)    A desire to contribute to the successful outcome of the client’s healing process

2)    Highly customer service focused

3)    Punctual, reliable and efficient

4)    Works well independently, and as a team member

5)    Impeccable driving record and safety awareness

Other qualities that could arguably be included in any top 5 list may be:

  • Cleanliness regarding both personal and equipment. Nobody wants to enter a vehicle that is filthy or reeks of tobacco, food or coffee.
  • Computer and GPS technology literate
  • Familiarity with the local service area and destination facilities
  • The ability to recognize potential problems before they arise, and take steps to avert them

To me, Item #1 pretty much sums it all up. I am of the opinion that if a driver has a genuine desire to contribute to the client’s healing process, all other desirable qualities will develop as a result.

At All Points Assisted Transportation, we believe that we are a key contributor in the total healing process for our NEMT clients. The satisfaction that an exceptional driver receives from each successful outcome for one of our clients, more than makes up for the stress, long hours, and high demands we as set upon them as supervisors and owners.

In-House vs. Outsourced Non-emergency Medical Transportation

July 8th, 2013

As the nations economy continues to suffer, so do government and private healthcare agencies. Everyone is making cuts, trying to save money, one way or another.

One way healthcare organizations can save money, without making cuts to their employees or services, is to outsource their non-emergency medical transportation services to professional NEMT businesses that can provide these services better, faster, and cheaper.

For your consideration, here is an estimate of expenses for providing NEMT services in-house compared to outsourcing them.

In-house Transportation Expenses:

These estimates are based on self-performing transportation services for one full-size wheelchair van.

  • Cost of one full-size wheelchair van, equipped with the necessary equipment and technology: Used: $25,000-$35,000; New: $50,000+; Avg. Payment: $1,100/month
  • Annual liability insurance premiums: $7,500 (depending on market)
  • Annual salary and compensation for one driver: $30,000+ (including taxes & WC)
  • Annual salary and compensation for one transportation director or dispatcher: $40,000+
  • Driver training and certifications: $200 per driver
  • Vehicle permits, licensing, and registrations: $1,200 per vehicle
  • Driver background check: $80 per driver
  • Annual fuel costs (based on a 5 day week): $18,000
  • Annual vehicle maintenance: $2,600
  • Dispatch service and communication subscriptions: $450

Total Annual Expenses: $113,230

These cost estimates don’t include interest on loans or depreciation of equipment or facility rental.

Outsourced Transportation Costs:

  • Base fee per trip: $20
  • Cost per mile over base fee: $2.00

There is a national trend for organizations to outsource services that don’t align with their core competencies. By doing this, it saves them time and money so they can focus on their core customer services that generate revenue. Also, many companies who are primarily engaged in the NEMT services, will outsource the service to subcontractors in order to accommodate “surge demand”.