Lack of Technology and Digitization is a Barrier to NEMT Providers Growth

As we welcome the new year and new opportunities, NEMT providers are slowly beginning to embrace technology that will allow their organizations to grow.

Propelled in part by the pandemic , technology, and digitalization are having a huge impact on how services are being delivered. With all the advancements we are seeing emerge in healthcare and logistics, it’s common to see NEMT companies still relying on fax machines, paper manifests, and Fed Ex packages stuffed with employee credentials as part of their daily routine – non-emergency medical transportation in the year 2022.

Managed Healthcare Organizations (MCO’s) and other payers are focusing on improving patient care through technology. Because of this, NEMT companies need to embrace technology and digitize their operations. NEMT providers that have technological platforms are uniquely positioned to partner with payers in both the medical and social services ecosystem.

NEMTAC estimates nearly 40% of the industry still relies on manual and/or antiquated processes to process transportation requests. To remain competitive with the fast-changinghealthcare environment, it is important for providers to budget for and prioritize NEMT technology immediately.

According to healthcare technology experts, digitally integrated transportation networks have set the stage for advancements in NEMT. Emerging technology enables automated administration of transportation benefits, simplified ride scheduling, and trip assignments by call centers, healthcare facilities, case managers, caregivers, and patients. 

Care coordinators now have access to dashboards showing when patients are picked up or dropped off, what happens throughout the trip, and digitally recorded verification of completed trips. This real-time, actionable data is invaluable in helping coordinators effectively navigate the many facets of their patients’ non-emergency medical transportation needs and provide the appropriate access to medical care. 

The benefits of technology driven NEMT solutions for a company include improved cash flow, reduction in expenses related to cancellations and no-shows, route optimization, improved contractual compliance, and minimized costly billing errors. The latest generation of technology is very passenger-centric. 

There are dispatch platforms that have smartphone-basedfunctionality like those utilized by rideshare companies. Users are now able to simply request a ride by swiping and selecting, rather than calling. What is perhaps most valued by case managers, discharge planners and passengers is the ability to know the exact time they will be picked up for appointments, rate their interactions and overall trip experiences using a satisfaction scale used by many services industries. 

To gain a better understanding of the technology needs of the NEMT industry, NEMTAC’s Technology Advisory Board developed a survey to better understand the needs of NEMT providers. From NEMTAC’s perspective, technology is the cornerstone to enhance on-time performance, reduce Fraud Waste and Abuse (FWA), and is an essential part of their accreditation standards. NEMTAC is helping move the industry forward at a rapid pace but recognizes the need of putting affordable technology into the hands of each owner/operator to improve their business processes is critical. 

The results of the survey are being used to educate payers and regulators on the need to increase or develop funding opportunities for the industry. 

The future of NEMT will see transportation companies, facilities, and payers working together with technology to manage patient services. It is time for us to move forward and away from the traditional methodology and manual processes that are so prevalent today. Payers, brokers, and regulators are accountable for the transparent reporting and evaluation of the performance of the NEMT service to ensure their transportation. It is time for the industry to unite, advocate for increasedadoption of technology, and fully integrate with all stakeholders.