How to Start a Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Business

By now you must be aware of the many compelling reasons why a non-emergency medical transportation business offers entrepreneurs such a great business model. With the growth in the health care industry and the explosion of baby boomer retirees, this market is big and set to get even bigger still.

In this article we look at how to start a non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) business. Learn about some of the steps that are involved and some of the aspects of this business that you will have to consider.

Franchise or Independent Operator?

There are now several players offering non-emergency medical transportation franchises. Entrepreneurs benefit with the franchise model as they can operate under an established brand and get advice and training to get started and run a business. However, with the franchise fees that must be paid initially and on an ongoing basis, the upside potential for profit is reduced. If you do your homework, you will find that this business is not that difficult and it is possible to start up and thrive independently.

Choosing the Right Area

Give some thought to the demographics of the area where you are setting up your business. Look for statistics that prove that there are a good number of elderly, disabled or Medicaid citizens living nearby. Compile a list of hospitals, dialysis centers, retirement homes, assisted living centers and other relevant operations. You could even make initial contact with some of these organizations and find out about the transportation solutions that they currently have in place.

Research the Competition

Identify all of the major competitors that you will have in your area and evaluate them in terms of their strengths and weaknesses. You may decide to incorporate parts of their business model into your own business and reject other parts. Learn as much as you can about them by reading their websites and calling their offices to ask questions. You can even spend some time following around some of their vans in order to understand how they work and to find out exactly who their customers are.

Getting Started – Licenses and Permits

Regulations and requirements for medical transportation businesses vary from state to state so you should make enquiries at the local level to find out what your obligations are.

As you are in the business of transporting paying customers from one place to another you will need some kind of permit, just as a taxi driver does. Your application for this kind of license will be handled by transportation authorities at the state or local level. Due to the nature of this work, some states will also require businesses in this industry to be registered with local health authorities.

There may also be other paperwork that needs to be done such as registering your business name, getting a business license (possibly more if you serve multiple counties) and zoning considerations if you run a home business.

Vehicles and Equipment

It is common for medical transportation services to purchase regular vans, either new or used, and then have them fitted out to suit special needs clients. Business owners typically start out with one vehicle and gradually add to their fleet as their business grows.

The best vans for an ambulette have a high raised roof and doorways. Access is usually on the side of the vehicle but can also be at the rear.

Some operators still use manual lifts to help them get wheelchair passengers into and out of their vans. However, you should be able to provide a faster, more professional service if you have a modern hydraulic lift installed.

Once inside the van, wheelchairs can be fastened to various securing devices so that they don’t move around during transit. Vehicles also require customized seatbelts for wheelchair bound passengers. You can also improve the quality of your service if you have some comforts like TV and air conditioning.

A decent sized van that is properly kitted out should be able to transport four wheelchair bound passengers at a time as well as have extra seats available for caregivers. Depending on your clients, you may also need a space in your van that will allow you to fit in a passenger that is confined to a stretcher.

Insurance Policies

To protect yourself from unforeseen events you will need to purchase a variety of insurance policies. A general liability insurance policy will ensure that you are covered in situations where your customers are injured or suffer losses while they are in your care. You will also need regular automotive insurance to protect yourself in cases where your vehicles are damaged, stolen or involved in traffic accidents.

Payment Options

Decide on how you want to collect payment for your services. You may have to invoice medical institutions on a monthly basis or you may need to process credit card payments for individual clients. If you service large clients like Medicaid then it may be as simple as receiving a check in the mail each month. Talk to some prospective clients and look at what their needs are. Find out what payment options your competitors are offering.

Service Hours

Give some thought to your operating hours. The best ambulette services in the market usually offer weekday service from early morning to late at night with decent hours on Saturdays too. As a sole operator you will be limited in the hours that you can take on. As you expand into a multi-driver operation you will be able to offer more flexible scheduling to clients.

Staffing Requirements

If you start out doing all the driving while also managing your business you will quickly get burnt out. In order to grow you need to step back and hire some drivers so that you can move into a purely management and marketing orientated role.

Staff should have a drivers license that allows them to take passengers and they may also be subject to certain standards or requirements at the local level. No matter what you should make sure that your staff are trained on how to do the practical side of the job. They need to know how to assist passengers and their caregivers as they get in and out of vehicles. They should also be instructed to smile and make pleasant conversation if the opportunity arises so that they help your brand to gain a positive reputation.

Marketing

There are many different ways to market a non-emergency medical transportation business. For some ideas on markets that you can target read our article on Medical Transportation Business Opportunities.

Initially you will have to go out and meet prospective clients and possibly even bid to try and win contracts. However, if your team are doing a good job then you will find that eventually business will come directly to you through word of mouth and referrals.

You can of course improve your chances of getting calls from private paying clients if you do a little advertising. A website that comes up in the search results when people search for ambulette services in your area can really help. A small Yellow Pages listing will also almost certainly be worth the cost. You can pretty much try any method that other local service businesses are using to promote themselves. Vehicle advertising is great for exposure and flyers, postcards or door hangers may work as well.

The Role of Recreational Therapy in Mental Health Treatment

Recreational Therapy has become a popular component of treatment for many health fields, including mental health. The American Therapeutic Recreation Association defines it as “a treatment service designed to restore, remediate and rehabilitate a person’s level of functioning and independence in life activities, to promote health and wellness as well as reduce or eliminate the activity limitations and restrictions to participation in life situations caused by an illness or disabling condition.” (American Therapeutic Recreation Association, July 2009) Recreational Therapy services are provided in a variety of mental health treatment settings, including inpatient, outpatient, and residential care. Certified therapists have earned at least a bachelor’s degree in the field and have passed national certification exam.

Recreational Therapists use a variety of techniques to help alleviate symptoms of mental illness and improve the quality of a consumer’s life. Leisure education is often provided, which can help consumers identify what types of leisure they are interested in and find community resources for participation. Many people who are experiencing symptoms of a mental illness have lost touch with their leisure lifestyles or have become socially isolated. Leisure education can also improve social skills to enhance enjoyment and enable consumers to build better relationships. Many Recreational Therapists also use recreation participation as a treatment modality. Therapists will engage in leisure activities with the consumer to improve leisure skills and practice social skills in the moment. In a group setting, therapists will use leisure based activity to explore patterns of behavior and teach healthy coping skills.

In treating mental health, Recreational Therapy can be a versatile treatment addressing various issues. Leisure activity can provide improved daily structure when participating in activities such as volunteer work, classes, or social groups. Certain leisure activities also provide opportunities for social interaction and support. Physical activities and exercise can help improve your mood. Exercise and other leisure activities also can provide a sense of accomplishment. Many of the concepts reinforced in Recreational Therapy align with cutting edge treatments like Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). The skills of mindfulness, regular participation in pleasant events, and building mastery are all core components in both DBT and Recreational Therapy. Finally, leisure involvement can provide a sense of purpose and meaning in one’s life, as well as strengthening individual identity or one’s sense of who they are. A Recreational Therapist can motivate and guide someone experiencing mental health difficulties to leisure that provides the specific benefits suited to their needs. Recreational Therapy services are included in most high quality mental health programs.

Maintaining Professionalism As a Medical Office Assistant

In any business, being professional is important but it is especially important as a medical office assistant because they are usually the first and the last people that clients come into contact with when they enter a health care facility. Since the medical profession has such highly respected position in society, people have come to have very high standards in their expectation of health care professionals and that includes medical office assistants. What does being professional mean? In the health care profession it has come to mean showing compassion, respect, and integrity towards clients.

There is rarely a “typical” day in the job of a medical office assistant so it is often difficult to predict what may happen next. That means that medical office assistants need to be prepared for anything and everything and with that expectation they must always attempt to reach towards excellence in their profession.

Emergencies are the most stressful situations for people generally and medical office assistants will come across emergencies more often than other administrative positions. It is important that emergencies are dealt with in a calm manner that will put clients at ease but it also must be dealt with efficiently so that the clients receive the care they need as quickly as possible. Depending on the kind of office that a medical assistant is working in, clients may have to wait longer than they anticipate and this situation must be handled with kid gloves. That means that patience is required and a soft heart.

When people know that they can expect the highest standards of professionalism from the medical assistants that speak with them first they feel confident and are more at ease when they are asked to wait or are given instructions on what to do while they are waiting. If patients know that you have their best interests in mind they will be more likely to feel comfortable in following your instructions.

One of the best ways to learn skills and learn about professionalism as a medical office assistant is to receive the proper training at an accredited business college that has a good reputation. Look for a business college that is willing to spend time answering questions and gives students the opportunity to put their learned knowledge to use in real life situations.

7 Characteristics of a Good Medical Transcriptionist

If you are considering a career change, medical transcription may be something you are considering. There are seven characteristics that people tend to have who make good medical transcriptionists.

  • A love of language. If you are a person who loves words and language, then this might be the right choice for you. Knowing and understanding language is an important skill in this profession.
  • Good spelling skills. Because the documents you produce are legal documents of a patient’s healthcare story, you must have good spelling skills to be successful. The words in the reports have to be spelled correctly to make it a quality document.
  • Grammar. In addition to good spelling and loving language, it is important to have good grammar skills. The people who dictate medical reports do not always speak with the best grammar, and it is up to the medical transcriptionist to be sure that the reports they transcribe are grammatically correct.
  • The ability to work with deadlines. Everything in healthcare depends on deadlines being met. If you are a person who works well with meeting deadlines and can successfully do that, then this may be a good choice for you.
  • Keyboarding skills. Are you a fast typist? If so, that will certainly help in this field. Many medical transcriptionists are paid on a production-pay basis, which means the faster you type, the higher your income will go.
  • Know and understand technology. You should be able to operate a computer and have some good basic technology skills. You do not have to be a computer guru, but you do need to know your way around the computer. It is also important that new technology not frighten you as the technologies in the industry are changing all the time. Be willing to embrace and new things and learn to make them work for you.
  • The ability to adapt well to change. Medicine changes every day. That means new things to learn and different ways to do something. You may have new clients who want things done differently as well. The ability to adapt to change without being stressed about it is very important in this field.

Hopefully this list will help you in deciding if medical transcription is the right career choice for you.