Innovation has played a major role in moving the world forward in the face of a global pandemic. Efforts to mitigate health and safety risks for our most vulnerable, are pushing the Medical Transportation industry to evolve from mainly "transporting people" to delivery-based services.
And, with the welcoming of a new US Administration, we're seeing a renewed commitment to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and expanding Medicaid to low-income Americans. A significant investment in transportation infrastructure to incorporate the needs of people with disabilities, maintain deliveries of medical and food supplies, and support autonomous vehicles and on-demand services, are a few of the solid wins for the NEMT and Healthcare industries. Let's take a closer look at a few trends on the horizon:
Q: How are NEMT and healthcare providers pivoting to fill service gaps?
A: The NEMT industry is branching out to fulfil service gaps brought on by the pandemic, while patient treatment has moved exponentially to technology-based Telemedicine.
Diversification has been the key to opening new doors for NEMT. In our recap video of our NEMTAC Virtual Conference, powered by TripSpark, Brian Spani, Brokerage Administrator, Bay Citites Brokerage/Metro West Ambulance, said "Because of COVID, new health and safety opportunities have opened for our business." One of the ways Spani and others have been able to pivot within their organizatoins has been to identify areas that were under serviced because of the pandemic so that they could lend a helping hand. Some examples include facilitating prescription deliveries, picking up and dropping off patients for COVID testing at hospitals, providing discounted rides to residents of care homes and those at higher risk.
As a pandemic essential for primary care visits, telemedicine has grown more in the last year than it has over the past decade! Its viability for specialty practices, hospitals and senior care also lend to telemedicine's staying power post-COVID-19. Just look at the numbers; consumer adoption has skyrocketed, from 11% of US consumers using telehealth in 2019 to 46% of consumers now using telehealth to replace cancelled healthcare visits. Providers have rapidly scaled offerings and are seeing 50 to 175 times the number of patients via telehealth than they did before.
Q: Will we see a transition to a value-based healthcare system for NEMT?
A: There is a high potential that NEMT will be brought into the value-based healthcare arena and the industry should be prepared.
Under value-based healthcare, providers are paid based on the number of services they deliver and patient health outcomes – AND the benefits are remarkable. Health officials have not kept secret their desire to link healthcare payments to value-based care, with the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) saying last year that they want to have 100 percent of providers taking on some downside financial risk by 2025.
During the first COVID-19 surge, many providers who transitioned to value-based care, fared better than those who leaned entirely on fee-for-service models. For these providers, revenue remained consistent during lockdowns while elective procedures were delayed and canceled, further underscoring the value to providers. The bottom line? An accelerated shift from volume to value-based healthcare benefits everyone from patients to society at large.
Moving in the right Direction
The NEMT and healthcare industries have already made some major strides in the right direction, just by grabbing low hanging fruit, like identifying major gaps in healthcare and working towards sustainable solutions. Emerging healthcare-related trends are starting to take hold and are forever changing the way we will all conduct business moving forward.