Transportation to Substance Use Disorder Treatment
- Author: Amy Conrick
- Date: April 18, 2023
Opioid addiction is a particularly insidious disease, one that is more recently leading to a spike in overdose deaths. Recent…
NCMM’s 2019 Healthcare Access “Ready-to-Launch” Grantees have been hard at work improving access to healthcare through mobility solutions. While things may have slowed down over the past few weeks, our grantees – from the Pugent Sound, across the Rocky Mountains, and through to the Truckee Meadows – recently came together on an all-team call and discussed their past efforts, what work they’re currently doing, and what’s planned for the future. Utilizing the human-centered design process, the grantees have developed programs that have enabled specific populations to receive more consistent care and support. To find out more about these and past NCMM grantees and the work completed in their communities, visit our Community Grants page.
envida of Colorado provides specialized transportation for older adults, people with disabilities, and people with lower incomes as well as at-home care services. envida serves a wide swath of the Colorado Springs area, covering the city and surrounding rural areas and counties.
With NCMM’s Ready-to-Launch grant, envida has established a dedicated non-emergency medical transportation service for individuals living in rural portions of El Paso county receiving behavioral and substance-use healthcare in the urbanized area of Colorado Springs. As the majority of the healthcare centers for these medical areas are housed in Colorado Springs, it can be difficult for those without a vehicle in their household or not living in the immediate vicinity to attend multiple appointments a week.
Through previous work with NCMM’s 2017 Health Care Access Design Challenge Planning Grant, envida collaborated with a team of healthcare and transportation professionals, discovering the difficulties that both users and healthcare centers have with appointment attendance. A lack of suitable transit options for individuals living further away from these centers was a big reason for missed appointments. Healthcare providers gave patients bus vouchers for free rides to appointments or recommended patients to ask friends for rides. Patients reported having to use ambulance services to attend appointments, some for every appointment.
The team developed 3 different solutions to improve appointment attendance, and after testing for customer desirability, operational feasibility, and financial viability they chose to move forward with a specialized transportation program catered to behavioral health patients. A focused shuttle, booked through envida’s app or through their scheduling phone number, delivered patients to behavioral healthcare appointments and returned them home afterwards.
The service launched in late 2019, doubling in ridership each month. The service quickly became a key part of local behavioral health providers transportation options and use skyrocketed. Being so, envida hired and trained an additional rider to better handle the increased demand. While COVID-19 has limited scheduled rides, the service is still in operation and will see rides come back once the virus passes. Results from two surveys of users found that 100% find the service helps health outcomes and 77% stated they’ve attended all their appointments. Additionally, 31% no longer use ambulance services to attend appointments now that the shuttle is in operation.
In the future, envida plans to expand the service outside of El Paso county to Teller and Park counties, connecting more behavioral health and substance use patients and their healthcare destinations.
The envida team and their project was recently highlighted on the Talking Headways podcast. Listen to the interview here.
Hopelink is a social services nonprofit agency that serves King County, Washington. Their programs include transitional and long-term housing, employment assistance, and specialized transportation, among others.
With NCMM’s Ready to Launch grant, Hopelink has created a Care Mobility Rewards Program that incentivizes transportation rides to post-hospitalization appointments with the aim to reduce readmission for South King County (SKC) residents. South King County is more rural and suburban with less transit access than the rest of the county. A report by King County in 2014 found that neighborhoods with transit inequities, with most in South King county, experience higher rates of poverty and face higher rates of preventable hospitalizations and illnesses at about 2.5 times the rate of the least impacted neighborhoods in other parts of the county. Additionally, more than 1 in 7 Medicare patients discharged from SKC hospitals were readmitted within 30-days.
Hopelink developed a Care Mobility Rewards program through work with NCMM’s 2015-16 Healthcare Access Mobility Design Challenge Grant. A team of healthcare providers, transportation programs, social services agencies and patients designed the solution in response to the high readmission rates in SKC. The program primarily works to reduce the percentage of Medicare patients re-hospitalized in suburban areas. It provides discharged, high-risk Medicare patients with accessible transportation (taxis, ambulacabs, etc.) to and from follow-up health care destinations, such as physical therapy appointments or pharmacies, through “Care Mobility Credits”. The program is centered on a Care Mobility Concierge who books rides for enrollees and hospital discharge planners who provide patients the knowledge of they need to book trips and use the credits.
The program was fully launched in mid-February in partnership with a local hospital Valley Medical. While in full operation for only a couple of weeks, three people enrolled and more than 20 rides were scheduled. Hopelink believes that after COVID-19 passes, enrollment and rides will return to the pre-virus levels and ridership will grow with time. Hopelink aims to eventually partner with additional hospitals through the Care Mobility Rewards program and work towards lowering readmission rates county-wide.
The Neighbor Network of Northern Nevada (N4) connects people living in Northern Nevada with inclusive, community-based services, volunteer opportunities, and affordable transportation. Their offerings serve a variety of needs in the community, including supporting people with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities, & people living with dementia and their family care partners.
With NCMM’s Ready-to-Launch grant, N4 has designed a holistic, wrap-around service for low-income older adults and people with disabilities living in senior villages to improve health and well-being, using discounted Lyft vouchers to facilitate easier transportation to healthcare-related destinations. In essence, a focus on improving mobility allows lower-income older adults living in specific communities an opportunity for better healthcare results and the ability to move around as they please.
N4 conducted outreach at two public senior living communities across Reno, gauging resident’s interest in a program catered to their needs. Through interviews and canvassing, the Ride-on-Time program was developed and launched. Through it, participants have had the opportunity to attend an intake meeting with N4 to understand the program process, learn how to use Lyft on a smartphone or how to schedule a ride through N4, if participants don’t have one. Most importantly, N4 provides participants who choose to develop and follow a health plan with their primary care physician, a monthly $160 Lyft voucher to use towards healthcare-related destinations and other travel. If funds remain at the end of a month, participants get to keep the remainder for their personal mobility.
A key focus of the program is on sociability, with N4 opting to notify participants of others who have similar health goals and who may be traveling to the same place, even if it’s during different times. Helping participants form new connections can help with health outcomes and improve quality of life. In addition to socialization, coordinating trips with others also creates savings due to shared trip costs, which N4 hopes can help the enrolled seniors take more trips per month using the voucher than if they took solo rides. N4 plans on evaluating the program’s impact on participants in regards to social connectivity and health outcomes through interviews over the next few months and finding additional funding sources to continue the project’s work.
Have more mobility news that we should be reading and sharing? Let us know! Reach out to Sage Kashner (email@example.com).
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