Medical transportation is a lucrative and demanding business. There are two fields of services in medical transportation. The first one is emergency medical transportation which we call as ambulance services. The second one is non-emergency medical transportation, also known as NEMT services.
Ambulance service is a dedicated medical transport service and these services are highly dedicated with numbers of ambulances all over the United States. What’s in shortage and in demand is the NEMT services.
Medical transportation for non-emergency services is as important as an emergency service but the risk factor in transportation of the patient is low and not very serious. Anyways, the reach of these types of medical transportation is still very limited.
Some Light on Medical Transportation
- A report by 32 states of the US reported that there were 5.9 crore trips of NEMT services between 2015-2018.
- The elders in the United States are now 50 million, they will grow to 70 million by 2030.
- Due to lack of medical transportation, close to 150 billion USD of loss is suffered by the medical system
- Over 3.6 million people as per a report choose to delay or dismiss their necessary medical care due to lack of NEMT services.
- In 2017, this NEMT service sector amounted to $21.82 billion and is expected to grow at 4% growth and will become a $31 billion market by 2026.
With the given facts above, there is an appealing ground to invest in medical transportation services and earn great returns. But before that we must get to know more about this service.
What exactly is Non Emergency Medical Transportation?
Non-emergency medical transportation mainly deals with medical transportation of those patients who are scheduled to visit medical institutions like clinic, hospital, pathology center, test center or other such institution for medical aid.
These patients usually have prior appointments and are mostly elderly in nature. This medical transportation is non-emergency which means that it doesn’t require an ambulance to carry the patient but it certainly needs a special transportation vehicle that makes the trip of the patient comfortable.
Here are 7 steps that you must consider before starting a NEMT business:-
#1. Facilities that an NEMT Service Renders
Timely medical transportation with dedicated medical staff to assist and aid the patient is the core service rendered. Apart from that, the NEMT service also provides comfortable seating in the vehicle.
For those who need a wheelchair, they can have it with proper ramps to lift the patient. Moreover, gurneys, oxygen tanks, dialysis machines, toilet facilities inside the vehicle, and stretchers to name a few.
Other facilities depend on your target client.
#2. Economics of Medical Transport Business and Profitability
Most businesses are profit driven and you too must be looking at the profit angle before you start. Of course, there should be a balance between the two while you are in your business, the customer dedicated services should be your priority.
But it is important to look at the economic and profit angle as we proceed ahead.
Medical transports charge on hourly basis. The charge generally ranges between $25-60 for an hour of transportation service. The rate fluctuation depends from state to state, city to city and from the service rendered.
Rural rates are low while in the city the rate is high. Generally, if you are working 6 hours a day and 5 days a week then you would be working for 30 hours a week. Charging $25 every hour, you can make $750 a week and $3000 a month which is subject to increase based on your charge and hours given every week.
So, $3000 a month isn’t bad with limited investment and it can also be a part time service or can be a business with many transport vehicles involved.
#3. Legal Formalities, Licensing and Registration
NEMT transportation services require adherence to several norms and rules especially made for them. Legal formalities like getting registered as a business, registering for taxes, getting registered as NMET service, license for transportation, etc.
To break it down into pieces, there are certain criteria made for NMET services that should be adhered to in order to start your services. Some of them are:
#4. Driver Criteria
Law asks for a step more than a driver. The driver should be medically fit, should have a valid license with less points against their license, should have least traffic violation records, no criminal cases, vehicle liability insurance, drug test report, etc.
Drivers are further expected to be trained in dealing with emergency medical situations of mild order. They should be well behaved and hospitable.
$5. Vehicle Criteria
The transport vehicle should have certain standards necessary to be useful for NMET services. Though there are guidelines made for proper medical transportation facility and vehicle condition, there is something more provided in law.
The American with Disabilities Act deals with standards for accessible design for private business with 15 or more employees including governments and public organizations.
Some guidelines are:
- Wheelchair support that can withstand 2500 pressure per leg
- Proper interior lighting to ensure visibility
- Lift door height to be 56’ inches door opening height
- Seat belt mechanism should be 4 points tie downs with lap and shoulder belts
- Handicap lift to be 30*40’ inches wide clear platform
Many companies dealing with automobiles have such vans that adhere to all standard regulations.
Lastly, your medical staff handling patients must be well trained and experienced with basic medical care like CPR, vital medical care, emergency aid, first aid, defibrillator operation, vital assessment, etc.
#6. Requirements for the NEMT Business
Certain requirements are imminent in order to run the medical transportation business. These are mentioned below:
- Transport Vehicle in few numbers
- Medical Staff
- Office Staff to attend customer calls
- Supportive and Cleaning Staff
- Vehicle Parking Space
- Office Space and others
Office Space doesn’t need to be very vivid or at some imminent location. Since, most of your business is confined to transport vehicles and through phone calls or online booking, there is no need to maintain an office or a big office since customers won’t be visiting you personally.
Though an office is essential as part of formal registration of business, for other claims, dealings with your business partners or clients, for your office staff, call attendant, etc.
Such an office can be better maintained from your residence since it will cut unnecessary expense of renting a space or building costly offices.
Regarding Transport Vehicle, this can be also rented in order to cut cost. With time you earn returns, you can very well purchase them. You should also ensure parking space for your vehicle when it retires after work.
#7. Financial Requirements
Exact financial requirements for starting the business may differ from state to state and from person to person. Some aspects may be in favor of yours which can reduce costs while some against you that may increase your expense.
A thorough business assessment and a plan will outline the expense based on your circumstances. In general, close to 350000 dollars can be required to start the business.
Some of the necessary expenditures are:
- Legal Formalities
- Registration, licensing, certification, etc.
- Office Space and maintenance
- Vehicle purchase or rent
- Fuel cost and maintenance including servicing
- Salary of staff and others employed
- Other miscellaneous expenses including various bills
- Marketing and Business Promotion
Legal formalities, registration and licensing requires not much expense but one may have to pay a legal expert in helping you out with all the legal work. This takes time so it can add expenses.
Office space can be rented or purchased. You can also build your own home office with minimum changes and it is much advisable to reduce unnecessary expenses.
You can both rent or purchase vehicles. You can buy at second hand to reduce expenses. Ensure that the vehicle is well equipped and looks at par with standard medical vehicles. Your vehicle and its performance including the inner facilities will be the biggest part of your service. Don’t compromise much in this.
Building the Business and Promotion
A service centric business requires a lot more effort than a product centric business. Here, quality control requires not only managing yourself but all your staff. Such medical transportation service requires much more dedication since it involves a critical aspect of every human’s life.
Comfort, cleanliness, well working facilities, hospitable staff, punctual response and service, well trained driver that drives to the comfort of the patient, being extra helpful, and charging a decent amount are some key aspects of building your business.
This will further help you in building your business and creating a name for yourself. These services grow based on word of mouth from customers. Secondly, user review is also very important in today’s time.
Therefore, just plain advertisement and marketing without catering to customer needs will end up ruining your business. You can use general marketing methods like target marketing to get new customers.
If you have worked previously in the industry then get back to people you have served and personally ask them to use your service. In order to grow, one needs to be dedicated, patient and concentrated in work.
New customers and returns will eventually flow in sometime. Also, reflect on your business from time to time to get better feedback for improvements.