A Key to Controlling Healthcare Costs and Inefficiencies—Reliable Patient Transportation

Updated on October 4, 2013

By John Chamberlin

As a healthcare provider or administrator, you understand how frustrating it can be to have patients arrive or depart for their appointment 30-60 minutes late due to the transportation vendor “running behind.”  Just as important, you understand the economics of these inefficiencies in your system down line:

  • The delay and inconvenience caused to your other patients.
  • If the patients cannot be seen, or seen on time, it can be difficult to design and maintain a proper care plan.
  • The potential medical-legal issues of having the patients exposed to numerous liabilities while sitting in a wheelchair in your facility’s hallway or lobby as they await to be picked up and returned to their home or facility.

And for facilities that currently coordinate their own transportation, are you providing your own drivers and vehicles simply because you believe outside vendors are less reliable?  And, if so, are you absorbing and inordinate amount of insurance, vehicle maintenance costs and exposing the organization to transportation liabilities based on the assumption that there are no better alternatives for transportation?

When reviewing options for non-emergent transportation, there are few options that properly execute the sensitive mix between patient convenience and logistic efficiency.  However, a Pittsburgh-based healthcare transportation company has leveraged their understanding of these issues into rapid growth.

Transport U began operating in 2006 and has seen almost 100 percent growth year-over-year as its client base of long-term care and medical services facilities looking to secure efficient, dependable, high-touch, highly-skilled transportation to reduce their inefficiencies and improve patient outcomes.

And as Transport U has grown over the past seven years, one of the ways it has grown is by sticking to an individualized transportation service model versus the traditional shared ride service. When a patient is picked up for transport, they are the only trip that driver is focused on at that time.

The company’s senior leadership has also been able to maintain consistency in its high level of service, individualized transport and reliability by requiring all staff members to undergo extensive training, including geriatric sensitivity training, according to Transport U’s Vice President, Steve Simmonds.  This training includes the staff being strapped in a wheelchair and transported as well as donning cataract glasses so that they have an understanding of the impairments and concerns their passengers regularly face.

Additionally, Transport U has made it a distinctive competency to provide what they call “door-through-door” service.  Their staff does not just drop the patient off at the curb; they make sure they get to their destination, down to the office, and then back again direct into their home. For oncology appointments and cancer treatments, Transport U staff stay with the patient which, therefore, alleviates the issue of patients waiting for their ride to return, and allows the patient to continue recovery at home instead of the waiting room of a medical facility.

Currently, Transport U operates 24 hours per day, 7 days per week and has:

  • 85 employees
  • 100 vehicles from wheelchair-accessible Mini vans, mid-size vans and busses
  • 500 trips daily

The company’s steady growth, according to Simmonds, is attributed to economies of scale and great service but also being able to customize transportation solutions to their customers’ needs.  There is no single solution to every facility’s transportation requirements. Long-term care facilities may need a mix of medical as well as social transportation services. Dialysis center staff requirements are different from those of hospital discharge staff. Transport U consultants work with each facility, individually, to assure highly reliable transportation service.

Al Allison is President and CEO of Baptist Homes Society, located in the South Hills area of Pittsburgh.  “We have been utilizing Transport U for over 5 years now. They provide an extraordinary service experience.  They really have a customer service orientation which is consistent with the customer values of our own organization.   On a one-to-one level, the residents love the service and love the driver,” said Allison.

As the healthcare industry continues to reform itself, along with noting that the Western Pennsylvania has the largest senior citizen population in the country, Transport U appears to be poised to maintain its position as a premier healthcare transportation company.  But more importantly, Transport U is helping others to recognize that the concept of patient transportation coordination is a distinctive role within the healthcare continuum.

For more information on Transport U or for a quote, please contact Steve Simmonds at (412) 281-8350 or visit, www.TransportU.net.

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