Closing the gap on healthcare quality: Ratings for medical transportation providers, not just health systems

Written by: Brandan McNiff, Director of Transportation, RoundTrip

When healthcare systems coordinate transportation for their patients, often they rely on the NEMT (non emergency medical transportation) network to provide that service. Yet most healthcare systems take for granted knowing if the transportation provider has been certified, is qualified and maintains a compliance standard that meets or even exceeds the “quality standards” for the industry.

While accreditation and quality-scoring for health systems are very well known and respected, such as HCAHPS surveys, there hasn’t been a designated entity in place to set the standards for NEMT until now.

Fortunately, there are NEMT providers that have set their own standards and provide exemplary service to their clients. But without a “formal standard”, the benchmarks have become very subjective and allow for variations between transportation providers. This has led to patients and health systems experiencing widely different interactions with the NEMT network.

Upon the formation of Roundtrip, it was my responsibility and goal to ensure that our provider network was appropriately licensed and credentialed and met the state/federal certification requirements to provide safe and timely transport. As we embarked on this journey, I very quickly identified the transportation providers who would fit into our mold.

Drawing on nearly three decades of experience in medical transportation, I was able to quickly identify the providers who would meet the quality standards of what we sought:

  • Ongoing employee training program
  • Defined clinical and patient experience practices
  • Documented fleet maintenance program
  • Quality standards for all employees
  • Service recovery programs

However, what I found was a smattering of these things, and each was tailored to an internal measure of standard that was measured against itself. In other words, unlike the Ambulance Services, there was not an external means of peer review to ensure that the quality metrics mattered.

Through no fault of the providers, as they all shared a vision of excellence, they had a missing link: An external scorecard by a peer review committee.
Until recently, these providers did not have a peer group to help them set attainable goals and measurable standards. In 2018, the Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Accreditation Commission (NEMTAC) was formed to do just that.

The task to raise the bar in any industry is best accomplished when you have a level set of criteria and several teams working on raising it. The creation of the Accreditation Commission will help set acceptable standards by working with all employee levels within a transportation company to develop, monitor and maintain an acceptable industry standard.

Now, for the first time, Roundtrip can offer to their health system and their patient clients that they can take comfort in knowing their NEMT provider is qualified, certified and meets the new measurement of the ‘industry standard”.

This is the new way of driving positive change in patient experience from the very beginning to the very end of the patient journey.

Author: Michael Shabkie

As an experienced, entrepreneurial healthcare executive, Michael’s passion for improving access to care led to the founding of Non Emergency Medical Transportation Accreditation Commission (NEMTAC) in 2018. NEMTAC is a nonprofit healthcare organization serving as the ANSI Accredited Standard Developer for the NEMT industry. As a neutral, consensus-driven organization, NEMTAC’s critical mission includes developing the first set of national standards for the NEMT industry, accrediting exceptional medical transportation companies, and certifying the NEMT professional through the Certified Transport Specialist (CTS) training program. His 25+ years of advocacy for improving the delivery of medical transportation services is the foundation for developing SDOH healthcare delivery models between Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) providers, EMS providers, healthcare systems, and the communities they serve. Please visit www.nemtac.org to learn more.