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The Importance of Transportation Services for Injured Employees

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By Donita Stacker, Sr. Manager, Operations, Apricus, an Enlyte company

The importance of transportation in health care outcomes—sometimes an overlooked factor—plays a pivotal role in access to needed health care services. One review found that 10 to 51 percent of patients cited lack of transportation as a barrier to care.

Consider what might happen if an injured employee confined to a wheelchair was forced to arrange his/her own ride to the doctor’s office or transportation to work during a period of transitional duty. Would a private driver’s car have adequate trunk space to safely store the wheelchair without damaging it? Would the driver know how to collapse the wheelchair for storage or how to assist the passenger?

These concerns extend beyond the need to safely stow durable medical equipment such as walkers and wheelchairs or even how to safely help riders. The drivers must also consider the often-unique needs of injured employees. Maybe someone needs a bit more time to get down to the street from an apartment. Or perhaps a person seemingly able-bodied requires a bit of assistance to lift a bag into a vehicle. These scenarios might fall outside what a taxi driver or a gig worker for a ride hailing company might expect to handle.

In addition to safety, transportation vendors used by specialty networks must consider the unique needs of injured employees and be experienced in the needs of this specific type of passenger. 

It’s important to make sure injured employees have access to the most appropriate transportation to meet their needs. This series of questions can help uncover what challenges the employee might be facing that would need to be addressed.

  • What type of transportation is required?
  • What date and time does the person need to be picked up?
  • What is the scheduled appointment time?
  • What is the location of the pickup and/or drop-off?
  • What is the destination? If it’s a facility, what are the details such as the name, location and phone number?
  • Does the patient have special needs? Or require more time getting to and from?

Knowing as much as possible about the requirements makes it possible to line up the most logical transportation options. In addition, it’s important to regularly reassess how services are being handled, routinely meeting with vendors to obtain status updates, gather and offer feedback, and conduct roundtable reviews.

The Impact of Driver Shortages

In the current landscape, many might think rising gas prices and vehicle shortages would be having the greatest impact on medical transportation services, but the real impact is being felt through driver shortages. With the demand rising, shrinking transportation service providers are inclined to require higher fees or prioritize more lucrative trips. This is further impacted by the fact that workers’ compensation fee schedules typically offer much less than others who use these transportation services.

In fact, drivers are cancelling confirmed trips because they are being offered alternative trips for considerably more money. This trend can cause delays in recovery time if needed health care services are not achieved in a timely manner, which can translate into longer open claims, higher costs, dissatisfied injured employees and compromised outcomes.

To combat this, specialty providers need to analyze data and engage with national transportation networks regularly to understand each vendor’s particular circumstances and determine mitigation strategies when necessary.  For example, by finding ways to incentivize drivers to understand the benefit of participating fully in a specialty provider program. This type of engagement gives specialty networks a leg up in meeting injured employee transportation needs regardless of shortages.

Considering The Injured Worker 

Injured employees can benefit in surprising ways when they have access to professional transportation companies experienced in workers’ compensation. For example, many services allow injured employees to request drivers with whom they’ve ridden in the past. This extra comfort, though modest in the overall recovery, can have a huge impact given that we know the foundational role that trust plays in the trajectory of an injured employee’s recovery and in the associated costs.

On an average day, Apricus arranges hundreds of rides for injured employees, typically to doctor appointments relating to an injury. If an injured employee requires more complex transportation, Apricus can also schedule ambulance, wheelchair, stretcher, basic life support and advanced life support transportation. Some services may also require scheduling all aspects of medical flights. Regardless of the type of transportation required, a full-service specialty solutions provider is your best bet to getting where you need to be on time, safe, and sound.

About the author

Donita Stacker has over 16 years of experience in the workers’ comp industry. In her current role as Manager of Strategic Implementations and Complex Care, she is responsible for delivering exceptional customer experiences during various implementation stages. As an operational leader, Donita collaborates with technical and operational teams to establish conversion strategies, capacity planning and outcome monitoring to ensure an overall successful program.

Donita is also a regular contributor to our Specialty Solutions Spotlight where portions of this article originally appeared. To ask and find the answers to more work comp specialty questions visit our website and subscribe to our monthly series.

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