How to Engage With a Population to Break Down Barriers to Health Improvements

eligibility. Patient contact and health information is auto-populated using health system records. When rides are scheduled, the platform asks whether patients require special assistance getting in and out of a vehicle, are hearing/vision impaired, travel with a caregiver, or have other needs that might determine vehicle selection. All billing and payment reconciliation with Uber and healthcare organizations is handled on the back end of Circulation’s system. To mitigate fraud and abuse, Circulation includes performance tracking functionality that lets administrators set triggers and detect suspicious activity. In addition, coordinators can update patient information files in real time with transportation scheduling information; notify physicians, nurses, and caregivers when patients arrive for appointments; and receive alerts on Circulation’s centralized multi-patient dashboard. Not only does Circulation provide transportation for at-need populations, it can be scheduled as far in advance as needed to ensure wellness checks are maintained.

“Unlike other new offerings that are stand-alone systems to dispatch on-demand vehicles, Circulation’s platform integrates with our internal systems, as well as with ride providers like Uber. It’s much more efficient for our transportation coordinators and allows us to seamlessly orchestrate the ride into the overall patient experience,” comments Gary Zimmer, senior vice president and CEO of the clinically integrated network at Mercy Health System, in a news release on the launch. Mercy Health is one of three systems to test the platform during its pilot phase. Zimmer added, “We are confident that Circulation will help us improve access and patient-centered care to acute care and elderly patients across Southeastern Pennsylvania who need help getting to their medical appointments.”

Robin Heffernan, CEO of Circulation, notes that patient feedback has been positive overall.

“For many, we are replacing their normal traditional transportation experience, known for long wait times and poor service, with reliable, high-quality, on-demand rides—and it is proving to be a welcome change for them,” she says. “For patients who are high acuity and/or less comfortable with technology, they are saying they are very appreciative of the opportunity to experience on-demand ride options with the extra support that we provide to improve their medical transportation experience and ensure they get the healthcare they need.”

What’s more, Heffernan adds, “We have been particularly pleased that seniors and other rider groups, who have never before taken Uber rides, feel empowered to use modern on-demand transportation, and they are loving it.”

Bringing healthcare to home and work  

Popular transportation programs are one more way for healthcare systems to reach the communities they serve. In addition, organizations continue to focus on providing care in facilities that are close to their target populations. But solutions that mean individuals don’t have to leave the home or workplace are another strong fit for healthcare systems seeking to broadly engage challenging populations.

Worksite clinics have long been seen as one solution to improving employee wellness. But according to the 2016 Large Employers’ 2017 Health Plan Design Survey from the National Business Group on Health, a nonprofit association of 425 large employers, 90% of surveyed employers will make telehealth services available to employees in states where it is allowed next year, a sharp increase from 70% this year. By 2020, virtually all large employer respondents expect to offer telemedicine. Utilization by employees remains low, but is increasing steadily.