Senior transportation: outsourcing vs. in-house
Whether you’re getting seniors to treatments and appointments or taking them on outings and shopping trips, reliable senior transportation is a core part of providing senior living services. That’s true for independent living centers, assisted living facilities, nursing homes and adult day centers alike — transportation is central to providing both quality care and a high quality of life. But for many senior living centers, it can be a daunting challenge to provide senior transportation cost-effectively, safely and in a timely manner. While some facilities invest in their own vehicles and drivers, it’s often more cost-effective, less risky and more reliable to outsource transportation to a reputable non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) partner.
Creating and managing a senior transportation program requires specialized expertise, dedicated resources and a cohesive plan for mitigating risks. If you’re looking to implement a transportation program, you must first consider a range of factors:
- Vehicles — senior transportation requires safe, ADA-compliant, wheelchair and stretcher transportation vehicles, which can be pricey
- Fuel and maintenance costs — these can add up quickly, especially for older vehicles
- Drivers — not just anyone can transport seniors; drivers must be thoroughly screened and trained as well as properly managed
- Worker’s compensation — a specialized NEMT takes on worker’s compensation liability for drivers, and NEMT drivers are trained to lift and move passengers, reducing driver injuries
- Liability and insurance costs — vehicles, drivers and senior living facilities must all be insured in case there’s an accident of any kind; a specialized NEMT can take on these risks
- Legal documentation, administration, planning and technology — a proper transportation program can only exist with the right support, which costs significant time and money
Bottom line, a complete program takes more than a car and a driver, and for many facilities, it can be too much to manage internally. Experienced NEMTs with the right people, processes and technology can cost-effectively and efficiently create senior transportation programs — so you can focus on what you do best, providing quality care.
Professional drivers and safe, dedicated vehicles
Specialized NEMTs can provide both the trained drivers and specialized vehicles necessary to create a quality senior living transportation program. When evaluating NEMTs, select a partner that has these minimum qualifications:
- Fleet to accommodate a flexible number of passengers and volume of rides
- Vehicles that are inspected, insured, registered, up-to-date and compliant with federal, state, local and ADA standards
- Wheelchair and stretcher transportation setups as well as ambulatory vehicles for those who are mobile
- Thorough screening program for new drivers
- Drivers who are fully insured and trained in wheelchair transportation, CPR, defensive driving and assisting those with disabilities and special needs
- Professionalism — having drivers arrive in uniforms, driving marked vehicles
For a more complete look at the qualifications of a professional, organized NEMT, take a look through our own qualifications page.
Technology has transformed transportation, and quality NEMTs will be outfitted with the support systems to plan and deliver efficient programs. Just some examples include:
- GPS systems and security cameras on vehicles
- Secure key FOBs that identify who is driving a vehicle
- Route tracking and reporting software that logs where a vehicle is at all times, the speed of the vehicle and any events during a route
- Secure, constant communication with drivers
- System backups, such as redundant Internet systems
When it comes to senior transportation, programs should not be one size fits all. A partner should be flexible to your needs. For example, quality partners can often:
- Adapt to your billing system
- Offer early morning pickups, evening runs and weekend runs
- Provide dedicated drivers who work exclusively with your facilities
- Complement any existing senior transportation programs
- Provide co-branding opportunities — such as if you own your own vehicles and they have your name on them, but you need someone to staff and manage them
- Reduce rates with efficient routing
- Scale the volume of rides to your needs as they change
- Support group outings
Procuring NEMT services
In this article, we’ve given you a brief overview of NEMT services and how a partnership with an NEMT can look. To learn more about the basics of NEMT services and selecting an NEMT partner, fill out the form and download our complete guide to NEMT services.
A complete guide to NEMT services: compassion, costs and qualifications
In this guide, we arm you with the tools and knowledge to effectively evaluate NEMT providers, services and costs.