Non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) doesn’t get as much attention as clinical advances or insurance coverage, but it plays a key role in the healthcare ecosystem, ensuring that vulnerable populations—including Medicaid and Medicare Advantage health plan members—get the crucial care they need.
When transportation is not reliable, that affects health outcomes. Take Margaret, who received an unexpected diagnosis of chronic kidney disease. Her doctor connected her with a care navigator, who began helping her find a specialist and other resources. Margaret told him she was worried about getting to her medical appointments—she didn’t have a car or a loved one who could drive her—and he told her that her Medicare Advantage plan covered transportation benefits through SafeRide Health for just that kind of situation.
Margaret’s care navigator explained that he or another care provider could schedule her rides for her—they could even set up regular rides for recurring appointments; her son or daughter could do so for her by calling or using a self-service portal; or she could schedule them herself. Margaret would receive text messages (if she wanted them) confirming each ride and letting her know when the driver was on the way. Her SafeRide driver would know exactly when and where to get her and that she needed help walking from her door to the car. And SafeRide customer service representatives could see what was covered under her plan, so there would be no surprises, like out-of-pocket expenses. They could even track the driver’s progress before and during the ride.
Meanwhile, Margaret’s health plan would receive valuable, on-demand data about her ride and every covered ride provided by SafeRide: the type of transportation provider and modality used, fulfillment and on-time rates, ride distance, how quickly are calls answered, member feedback, and more. These are crucial metrics used by both the health plans and SafeRide to improve member experience, ensure access to care, improve network performance, and lower healthcare costs.
It wasn’t always this way—and in many cases, it’s still not. Legacy NEMT solutions often offer little to no transparency into operations, efficiency, performance, and member experience.
Historical Gaps in NEMT
Legacy non-emergency medical transportation brokers have typically been slow to innovate. Historical weaknesses among those legacy brokers, which SafeRide has addressed since our founding in 2016, have had real consequences for health plans and their members:
- Lack of Transparency: Antiquated processes and a lack of performance metrics have left many health plans and transportation brokers guessing when it comes to the performance of their transportation providers and networks. Plans not only face barriers to efficiency when they don’t know where there are opportunities to improve, they are also forced to spend more time managing their transportation providers and brokers—time that could be spent focused on the members.
- Limited Modality and On-Demand Options: A lack of modality options can increase costs. For example, when a wheelchair-enabled ride is provided for someone who could (and would rather) walk to the curb, it’s a missed opportunity to use existing, cost-effective rideshare infrastructure. On the other hand, if the only option is curb-to-curb service and someone needs door-to-door service, that member risks not being able to access health care, which can compromise their overall health and well-being. Most brokers also require 2+ days’ advance notice for rides, but SafeRide offers industry-leading on-demand rides when a transportation need suddenly arises.
- Member Outcomes: No-shows can lead to missed appointments, which can lead to worse health outcomes. That’s especially critical when it comes to life-sustaining rides, like Margaret’s ride for kidney dialysis. But even primary care appointments are important, and it can take months to reschedule that appointment—a real risk for someone who may have an undiagnosed medical condition.
Targeted, Efficient Medical Transportation
Technology today enables precise ride data and targeted performance analyses. Those capabilities can improve the member experience; drive efficiency; lower healthcare and operational costs; combat fraud, waste, and abuse; and—in the case of Medicare Advantage—improve Star ratings. SafeRide has invested heavily in a technology-first approach that is making these goals a reality.
SafeRide's commitment to building a digitized transportation network underpins the healthcare system with transparency and visibility. We track and share countless data points on every ride, so health plans know how many rides are fulfilled and understand how well they are fulfilled. Since each health plan is unique, we work to establish targeted quality benchmarks/SLAs based on each plan’s priorities. Those might include on-time rates, on-demand fulfillment rates, call center performance, type of transportation provider, modality, etc.
Another innovation is our tiered network structure: We collaborate with our transportation providers to ensure these partnerships are mutually beneficial and focused on sustainability, diversity, and growth, and we work to help manage and monitor employee and vehicle compliance with state, federal, and internal regulations. Those providers that have achieved “Tier 1” status are incentivized to deliver strong performance with predictable, continual volume, promptly paid claims, and opportunities to take on more volume when ready. Our Tier 1 providers are fully integrated via the SafeRide driver app, ensuring we can see where every ride is in real time and can dispatch additional rides on-demand based on the availability of the vehicle. On the other hand, providers that fail to meet our standards of service are removed from the network, so they do not jeopardize the health of a plan’s members or the good standing of the network.
We believe that creating a seamless network supported by cutting-edge technology serves as a vital lifeline to care—and can even prolong a member’s life. In fact, 60% of all our trips are to life-sustaining care across rural and urban patient populations, and those riders are given an extra level of support from multiple SafeRide teams. Our live dashboard is committed to monitoring those life-sustaining rides in case we need to step in and solve any challenges. Our teams work around the clock to confirm every ride and connect with our transportation providers and members to ensure we are providing the highest level of service.
A Next-Generation Transportation Broker Fueled by Partnerships
At SafeRide, we recognize that our collaborative partnerships with health plans and transportation providers are key to our success in helping members access their care. We work hard to ensure that transportation providers are set up for success. And we have the technical infrastructure to ensure that health plans have all the information they need—including data they didn’t know they wanted or needed—to improve member experience and efficiency.