Medical transportation: Conquering the final frontier in healthcare

Medical transportation is a necessary but alarmingly unmanaged, expensive component of the healthcare sector. The medical transportation provider market is fragmented and dangerously uncoordinated across the continuum of care.

Pricing is inconsistent across the industry. And standards for quality and patient safety often vary from provider to provider. It's a $9 billion problem that is getting worse, with accusations of price gouging and payors and patients hit with tens of thousands of dollars in fees.

These issues impact every community across the country whether urban, suburban or rural. When patients cannot pay the high bills, they can lose their credit rating, their home and their savings. The medical transportation problem can be fixed, but it will take a concerted effort with a new vision for reinventing how this industry can and should work. The solution has got to include the following components:

Establish a National Network of Medical Transportation Providers

A network of providers that includes multiple modes of transportation with access to local, regional and national fixed-wing, helicopter and ground ambulance services needs to be established. Streamlining the industry through a national network will improve transparency and communication among transportation providers, patients, payors and physicians, increase patient volume at fair market pricing for network transportation providers, and lower the cost of services for healthcare payors and patients.

Standardize Clinical Quality and Consistency

Not every patient should be directed to the more expensive air ambulance services. Selecting appropriate medical transportation for the patient is critical to containing costs and improving services. Ground transportation options, coordinated end-to-end, can and should be selected for post-acute care visits. Standardization also should encompass training and screening for transportation staff. And provider companies should be required to be credentialed.

Maximize Technology

No central core of coordination exists today among the payer community, transportation entities and patients because the medical transportation industry is not taking full advantage of the technology that is available. Developing virtual on-demand networks that include an online administrative infrastructure will simplify and expedite services to patients. Advanced analytics used in other industries can be tailored to monitor spending, reduce administrative scheduling and overlap and improve logistics for transportation services. For patients, integrating their clinical data into an online system and making that data available for transportation medical staff will increase their safety and improve the quality of services that they receive while being transported.

Currently, 3.6 million Americans do not obtain needed medical care due to the unavailability or expense of medical transportation. By harnessing and reinventing this unregulated market space, Alacura will bring transparency and controlled costs to an unregulated part of the healthcare cost equation.

David Boone serves as CEO for Alacura as well as for Angel Med Flight, an air ambulance company based in Scottsdale, Arizona, both of which are privately owned by The Vistria Group. In addition to these roles, he is a member of the board of Directors of national Western Life Insurance (NWLI), several private company and non-profit boards and is the lead independent director and Audit Chair of Track Group (TRCK). Prior to Alacura and Angel Med Flight, Boone served as CEO of American CareSource, a NASDAQ traded healthcare services firm, from 2006-2011. He also held executive roles with a variety of publicly traded and start-up organizations including Kraft General Foods, Sears, PepsiCo, Safeway, and Belo Corporation. Boone received his MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business and his B.S. in Accountancy from the University of Illinois.

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