Where Healthcare Transformation Meets Patient Transportation
Facilitating patient care to the best possible outcome without wasteful spending is central to value-based care, and other initiatives generated by the ongoing realignment of the US healthcare industry, also known as healthcare delivery transformation. A critical element of these ambitious initiatives is patient transportation – the patients’ ability to physically arrive to their appointments. Unfortunately, the journey to a healthcare provider is the biggest obstacle to accessing care for millions of lower-income patients.
Recognizing patients’ ready access to transportation as essential to healthcare outcomes and to systemic cost containment, the Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS) instituted the Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) benefit for Medicare and Medicaid patients. NEMT seeks to eliminate care gaps attributable to transport inaccessibility.
Nearly 3.6 million Americans report “patient transportation issues that prevent them from getting to or from a doctor’s appointment, and 25 percent of lower-income patients have missed or rescheduled appointments due to lack of transportation” (Monegain). All these missed appointments cost money and can affect hospital ratings negatively. Patients with chronic illnesses should not have to be burdened with the uncertainty of whether they will be able to show up to their appointments. Knowing that there are doctors willing and able to help but not having the access to these vital resources has an overwhelming negative impact on patient wellbeing and mentality. Patient transportation barriers are even more of an insurmountable obstacle for the impoverished who have already accumulated countless medical bills and cannot afford to hire a taxi multiple times per week.
Now the question remains—what can we do to overcome transportation barriers?
On March 5, 2018, Allscripts and Lyft announced that the two companies have joined forces to create an EHR-integrated desktop application where doctors can arrange free patient transportation. The venture could potentially reach upwards of 7 million people, eliminating the transportation barriers that prevent consistent patient care. Around the same time, Uber also reported “the launch of Uber Health, a new service that will partner with healthcare organizations to provide free rides for patients.” Therefore, we are now looking at the next phase of the healthcare revolution: a ridesharing system that would be reliable, affordable, and available to all struggling patients.
How does it work?
According to Allscripts, both clinicians and patients would have the ability to schedule rides with Lyft using the application and the company’s open platform. Once a ride has been requested, healthcare providers can monitor their patient’s location as well as estimated time of arrival, adding an extra layer of patient security. Lyft wants to achieve the “goal of reducing the transportation health care gap by 50 percent in the next two years—and a key part of [the] mission to improve people’s lives with the world’s best transportation.
Uber Health will basically adopt a “No smartphone? No problem” mantra so that patients can opt to receive phone calls and text messages with their ride details instead of using the application. The top two ridesharing companies are developing relatively simple ways to help patients receive the care they need and are giving patients the means to control their healthcare.
What does this mean for patient privacy?
Although ridesharing services will benefit patients’ care overall, their protected health information (PHI) now needs to be shared with others who were previously not privy to patient records. For example, drivers need to know when and where to pick up a patient, how many times per week they need to provide transportation services, what type of accommodations the patient needs, and must be updated with any changes in the person’s care. Because of the growth in the exchange of PHI, there are new opportunities and threats presented to companies that want to enter the rideshare-for-healthcare industry. One of the most significant opportunities for providers is the potential revenue from attracting new patients and by earning higher CMS reimbursements through more efficient and higher quality service. Additionally, service providers will have a competitive advantage by leveraging their technology to accelerate and amplify PHI exchange while staying compliant with regulatory requirements and security/privacy standards. On the other hand, there is increased exposure to risk of cyber-breach and regulatory penalties, which can result in cost implications and irreparable damage to a company’s reputation. Thus, the proper precautionary measures must be taken to prevent these HIPAA violations and DataMotion can help.
DataMotion’s Role in Healthcare Transportation
In order to help healthcare providers and patients alike, DataMotion offers several SecureMail services that ensure information is being delivered safely and in compliance with HIPAA policies. SecureMail works with virtually any email client and works across mobile devices as well. The best part? Our products are easy to use and come with step-by-step user guides. Encrypting emails and file transfers are crucial to ensuring patient transportation needs are met while their information is securely passed along to those who need it. And with a comprehensive set of APIs, secure messaging can be built into any healthcare application or workflow. For more information about our SecureMail services, click here.
Real-life Patient Transportation Examples
LogistiCare and New Jersey Medicaid Ride
Although most are familiar with Uber and Lyft, there are already non-emergency medical transportation services available to New Jersey residents as well. NJ Medicaid has joined forces with LogistiCare in order to “reduce barriers for arranging needed transportation, improve quality of the services and to ensure accountability for Medicaid trips.” Patients have a variety of choices when it comes to scheduling an appointment after identifying the “need for patient transportation assistance.”
NJ Medicaid uses DataMotion SecureMail service to provide heightened security measures for sending and transferring sensitive patient data with partner and provider organizations. SecureMail enables NJ Medicaid to comply with HIPAA policies and prevent costly violations.
Connecticut Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT):
Connecticut NEMT is a ridesharing program to assist Husky Health Medicaid members in getting to and from their healthcare appointments. The ridesharing service is available for individuals that belong to HUSKY A, C, and D who do not have any means of transportation to make it to their doctor’s appointments. The non-emergency medical transportation company, Veyo, has been the selected contractor to “arrange transportation for HUSKY Health members.” Connecticut, like New Jersey, has begun to tackle the medical transportation barrier, which will lead to a decrease in missed appointments and an increase in patient wellbeing in both states.
Connecticut NEMT, too, has chosen DataMotion SecureMail to protect patient health information and avert HIPAA violations.
DataMotion has effortlessly kept up with the trends in healthcare and is ready to help other patient transportation ridesharing services stay protected in the digital world. Together, we can help patients receive the care they need by providing sensible and secure transportation!