For most people, going to the doctor for a quick check-up usually just means driving to the hospital. However, some people either don’t have the means to travel or they might require special equipment or arrangements when being transported. But while their need to access medical services can be considered an essential need, these patients don’t typically require ambulance because they’re not experiencing a medical emergency.
This is where non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) comes in. For an affordable fee, patients can book NEMTs that will transport them to their destination hospitals or healthcare facilities. Unlike most private vehicles and modes of public transport, NEMTs are designed to carry patients that need special equipment or assistance. NEMTs can smoothly transport people in wheelchairs and stretchers which regular taxi cabs and buses are unable to easily accommodate, if at all.
If you’re thinking about using non-emergency transport services or just curious about how they work, here are a few things about NEMTs that you should keep in mind.
NEMT Providers Use Software to Connect with Patients
NEMT providers and brokers typically take advantage of software solutions to ensure that patients connect quickly with an available NEMT service. By using a custom-made platform, transportation providers can easily schedule the deployment of NEMTs for patients in need. Similar to emergency dispatch in EMS, non emergency medical services software allows NEMT providers to dispatch transports to users who are requesting transports.
NEMT software solutions assess the available vehicles based on their capacity to accommodate equipment such as walkers, gurneys, wheelchairs, and mobility scooters. Upon booking, the NEMT software will also provide billing information with a breakdown of accumulated costs.
NEMTs Also Benefit Non-Vulnerable Populations
Even though disadvantaged communities and at-risk patients are the ones that benefit the most from non-emergency transport, NEMTs are still an essential health service that all patients regardless of capacity have the right to access. Even if they’re able-bodied, requesting patients can book an NEMT for reasons such as remote geographic location and lack of a valid driver’s license. Doctors also don’t recommend driving for people that have just gotten out of surgery, so transportation via NEMT is a must for these patients that need follow-up appointments at the hospital.
People that often use NEMTs also tend to rely heavily on family and friends for checkups and treatments. Having the option to schedule a trip with a broker for non-emergency trips gives these patients a sense of comfort and could potentially help them on their path toward recovery.
NEMT Rates Are Based on Various Factors
The billing for NEMT costs is largely based on the services and equipment being requested. Rates vary depending on the provider, but overall charges usually include the base rate for the type of vehicle needed plus additional fees such as wait time and mileage for longer distances. Charges also depend on the requested schedule, which means that off-hours, weekend, and holiday trips could cost more than trips during business hours.
The usual types of NEMT services include regular ambulatory or curb-to-curb transport for patients that are mobile enough to get in and out of the vehicle without assistance. There are also door-to-door services for patients that do require assistance getting in and out of vehicles.
Other NEMT services include those designed for transporting people in wheelchairs and stretchers. Brokers also offer bariatric transport services for stretcher-bound patients weighing over 300 pounds, as well as services for those in need of monitoring and life support.
Insurers Have Different Criteria for NEMT Coverage
How much your insurance will shoulder with regard to NEMT costs depends on the degree of medical necessity. Medical treatments, post-operation appointments, and outpatient procedures are often deemed a necessity and warrant reimbursement. To ensure insurance coverage, the attending physician would have to document the patient’s need to be transported by a non-emergency vehicle.
Other potential reimbursable services include transport for long-term rehabilitation treatment and transfers between hospitals or care facilities.
NEMTs Can Help Reduce Medical Costs
NEMTs give patients more mobility despite limitations in physical fitness, financial capacity, and proximity to health services. But other than removing transportation barriers, NEMTs also offer a lot of benefits in terms of cost. By scheduling NEMT rides, patients can avoid missing medical appointments and lower the chances of a life-threatening emergency that could burrow deep into their pockets.
Patients and their loved ones can save money by periodically going to preventive, non-emergency appointments. Spending a bit for non-urgent medical appointments is relatively cheaper compared to the staggering healthcare costs that one would have to deal with when ailments take a turn for the worse.
On the Road to Better Access to Healthcare
One should not have to wait for an emergency to get access to healthcare. NEMTs give patients an option to easily get the medical services they need, allowing them to enjoy a level of independence that wasn’t previously afforded to them. By allowing ride requests at the click of a button, NEMT providers enable patients and their loved ones to have more control over their lives, therefore giving them a better way to manage an otherwise unmanageable medical situation.