LifeCare Ambulance Service began operation in 1983, providing ambulance services in Battle Creek, Michigan. They have grown their EMS coverage throughout the region, increasing their geographic service area to 1,400 square miles in 7 rural counties. Now, on top of their EMS, they also provide wheelchair van services, PERS monitoring and a regional 2-1-1 center, and have become an integral part of the aging community and adding service to PACE programs. They are a great example of how business strategy, in concert with an appropriate toolset of software products can come together to build towards expansion and improvements.
As LifeCare prepared to expand to include PACE transportation services, they knew they would encounter a number of problems unique to the PACE environment. Issues such as entering and recalling important participant medical data and building schedules around PACE-specific operations increased LifeCare’s scheduling needs.
We would need to schedule and dispatch over 5,400 monthly trips.
The increase in demand was poised to put a great deal of strain on their dispatchers and drivers who were going to struggle with being able to provide the same level of quality service. There was a concern that their on-time performance would suffer, which in turn would impact upon both their company’s credibility and the safety of their participants.
Another area of concern was around the frequency of no-shows and “canceled at the door” occurrences. They needed to enable better communication between participants, PACE schedulers and LifeCare drivers in order to prevent wasted time and other resources. As more trips were added, LifeCare needed a software solution that could allow for this new growth. At the same time, they needed a solution that could keep types of transportation clients separate.
LifeCare needed tools that were specific to the PACE environment. PACE centers require the ability to monitor transportation vendors in real time in order to ensure their participant’s needs are being met. This is also essential for tracking the grievance process and for measuring participant satisfaction. Having access to active transports is the best way to coordinate between PACE sites and their transportation contractors. Schedules are set with both transport and health care providers so each is aware of a participant’s total daily schedule. This reduces the amount of errors and provides insight into the areas that may need more attention.
Now LifeCare has the tools to plan and to measure the satisfaction of its participants and the ability to track grievances. They have the tools to work with a PACE site in order to identify inefficiencies and produce cost effective solutions. Now schedules for each type of trip are separated in order to provide a simple overview of trips and healthcare appointments. PACE centers have access to this information at all times. While LifeCare can work with PACE sites to this degree of service, they are still able to offer other transportation and dispatching services so they haven’t diminished in the other areas of their business. Their PACE scheduling software solution is scalable in order to adjust to new service offerings while maintaining previous services.
In September of 2012, CEO Ron Slagell reports that LifeCare was selected to provide transportation for another PACE site in western Michigan. Because of the software they had implemented, they were able to face this new challenge of operating fourteen 10-12 passenger/wheelchair transport buses as well as 6 traditional wheelchair vans.
In March 2015, LifeCare installed DriverMate, the TripSpark in-vehicle mobile app. These enabled drivers to work from a digital manifest in order to transmit and receive trip/client/status information with dispatchers, and allow a visual map in real-time of their vehicles and current scheduled trips.
[DriverMate] will allow us to make real time decisions to keep scheduled trips on time.”
In order to maintain their operation and manage the diverse fleet of multi-purpose vehicles, enabling quick and safe communication between drivers and dispatch is essential. As Ron points out, this will “take demand off our dispatch personnel as drivers will update their status electronically through the Mobile Data Terminals.” Better communication between participants and PACE schedulers allows for more advanced
warning of impending trips.
[DriverMate] will take demand off our dispatch personnel as drivers will update their status electronically through the Mobile Data Terminals.
TripSpark is pleased to be partnered with LifeCare as they develop into an even larger transportation provider. We also look forward to hearing how the use of DriverMate impacts their overall operation.