Geisinger takes aim at rural patient transportation issues with pilot program

Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger plans to launch a transportation pilot program with rabbittransit, a public transportation provider for patients in York, Pa., who are unable to travel to medical appointments, according to The Daily Item.

Jaewon Ryu, MD, the health system's executive vice president and CMO, informally announced the pilot program at a Geisinger-sponsored community luncheon March 19, which brought together over 100 community and business leaders.

Working with community partners, Geisinger is proposing two pilot transportation projects, including an urban program in northeast Pennsylvania and a rural program in central Pennsylvania, according to a program overview Geisinger shared with Becker's.

To initiate the process, Geisinger staff will identify patients' transportation needs and submit a referral form. A mobility manager will review the referral form, assess need and screen the applicant. The health system will then send trip requests and reserve rides for patients via phone, form or digital portal. Geisinger staff will conduct three- and six-month follow-ups to assess patients' needs.  

Geisinger also plans to extend transportation options for nonclinical, health-related activities, such as obtaining social services, getting to grocery stores, traveling to a pharmacy to pick up medication or applying for government benefits.

In fiscal year 2016, Geisinger's service area saw 323,769 no-shows for primary care appointments and 87,582 no-shows for ancillary services. Although recent studies revealed transportation programs may not be the easy fix to missed medical appointments, Dr. Ryu said transportation is a bigger issue for Geisinger's patients who live in rural areas.

Geisinger plans to go live with the first pilot in April.

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