If you've ever found yourself trying to get up to speed on what's driving improvement in healthcare outcomes, you don't have to look far to find articles that reference two sectors with enormous potential for impact; Telemedicine and Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT).
Published this month by Physicians Practice: "Results from a survey by the American Medical Association in late 2020 suggest that 60% of providers report telehealth has improved their patients’ health, and more than 80% think it has improved the timeliness of care".
Since time and money are at the root of what's keeping patients from seeing their healthcare providers, telemedicine interventions and the interest in medical care managed through telemedicine has risen significantly - a good indication that it's here to stay and that it's contributing positive dividends to both patients and healthcare providers
But advocates for patient transportation caution that the increase in patient interventions through telemedicine shouldn't stop there.
While telemedicine does circumvent some of the transportation issues, there are many changes still needed to maximize healthcare savings and to better inspire health outcomes. These for our most vulnerable patients - those who still need transportation when managing chronic diseases requiring high touch clinical workflows.
"360 made adjustments in technology and standard operating procedures in advance of accreditation because of its importance to the lives of our clients" says Stephen Newman, owner of 360 Quality Care + Transport Services in St. Louis, MO.
Also reported by Physicians Practice in 2020: "According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), transportation challenges prevent a staggering 3.6 million Americans from receiving medical care each year".
"The need for an accredited standard for the most vulnerable class is strategic - it's targeting the people and outcomes that matter the most" - Stephen Newman
Bringing attention to the need for an accredited class of transport (PMT), and advocating for the funding sources necessary to exist as a qualified service provider will help insure that performance standards are met across the industry, helping vulnerable patients gain better access to care throughout their experience..
Ideally, as the American Medical Association continues to advocate, the federal government and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will embrace both opportunities to reduce the barriers to healthcare found in Telemedicine and NEMT.
Opportunities that focus on:
Providing cost coverage that allows patients to access qualified services wherever they are located.
Providing for the use of accessible services, devices and technologies as well as transportation for connecting physicians and patients.
Advocating especially for at-risk and under-resourced patient populations and communities.
Supporting increased funding for planning and innovation for both healthcare providers and patients.
Supporting the use of telemedicine AND Priority Medical Transportation to reduce health disparities and promote access to health care.