The market for Medical Transportation service is projected to hit about US $96 billion by 2022, according to a report from Zion Market Research. With the service valued USD 25.0 billion in 2014, the insight forecasts a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 6.7% within the years. Lucrative business promises in the sector have attracted more players in the industry lately; most of them introducing new technologies to improve service quality. It’s not difficult to see why consumers are responding effectively in the market since about 70% of the American population relies on rail-hailing service for transportation.
Healthcare Mobility Services
Aside from breaking grounds in North America due to well-developed and organized road infrastructures, on-demand medical transportation services have also recorded rapid growth in developing countries. Timely healthcare transportation of patients within various medical facilities and the level of awareness to the service have played significant roles in the growth of healthcare mobility services in the various region of its operation. The current developing status of healthcare infrastructure in Asia Pacific region is expected to affect the market growth significantly by 2022.
What drives the market?
The need for patients’ transportation from point A (usually home) to point B (healthcare facilities) for medical treatments is a concern that has not been resolved by the traditional transportation system. The situation is uglier when patients lack the ability to drive or oversee healthcare transportation protocols required. These movement barriers which span across the entire population also affect patients with chronic diseases resulting in costly damages if deaths are neglected.
In the United States, healthcare providers spend as much as $150 billion annually due to missed medical appointments, with cases of no-show as high as 30 percent, according to Business Insider. And about 3.6 million Americans miss their medical appointments yearly as a result of unreliable patient transport services. Patients who miss their appointments are poised to spend more money on treatments due to the escalation of ailments since failing to receive treatments at an earlier stage. About half of the low-income patents regularly miss or reschedule medical appointments due to unreliable transportation. And the only solution to the challenge which is a transportation system insured by Medicaid for poor people (currently used by over 450 million patients) always fail to arrest the problem – patients either wait too long for rides or forced to book rides many days ahead of the appointment.
Rising healthcare complications
The market for healthcare mobility services has witnessed rapid drive as a result of the rising healthcare complications which requires medical attention. The number of emergency hospital administration is also making a rise globally. In 2011, more than 131 million patients needed different kinds of medical emergency service in the US alone. The following year, the number increased to more than 141 million patients, tightening the mentioned challenges further. Zion Market Researchers reports that about 13% of the patients requiring these varying medical emergency services used ambulance facility. Hence, a better healthcare transportation system has become the only promising means of improving and increasing the market.
Medical mobility solution using ride-sharing services
On-demand medical transportation service came as one of the success metrics in transportation which began in the 1990s. Since devised from regular on-demand transportation, it has provided a huge solution to medical transportation challenges, though this is still inconclusive. A study published in JAMA internal medicine suggests that on-demand medical transportation may not be the solution to challenges in meeting up with medical appointments.
However, the service has since improved as a result of competition from new companies joining the market and consumers’ feedback. Major players in the industry include Lyft, Uber Health, Roundtrip, Ford’s GoRide, EpicNEMT, Veyo, E-zec, Ride2MD, EMS Find and SAFETRIP. Some trends in the service are quite notable and could be used to assess service quality, such as a service model used by Stat – a startup company in the service. Stat connects ambulance companies and hospitals through its app, allowing the providers to access pickup and destination addresses. The company alerts the nearest idle ambulance with information about the type of medical transportation needed. Though on-demand medical transportation is considered the cheapest and most reliable service for meeting up with medical appointments, some of the service providers are still working hard in following up with the technology trends and concepts necessary for quality delivery.
In line with the regular means of summoning on-demand rides, the healthcare transport service also works with mobile apps. For instance, the Uber app, Lyft app or EMS Find app provides the means of all transactions and updates required while using their transportation service. Interestingly, some on-demand medical transport service providers have realized that the use of smartphone may be cumbersome or too technical to some individuals. Hence, a more robust means of booking a ride is by sending a text message. This seamless mode of ordering for a ride is available on an Uber Health.
Choice of ride
Patients using canes, folding wheelchairs, walkers or other assistive devices can comfortably choose a wheelchair-accessible vehicle (WAV) for their medical appointments. This service is now available with most of the providers, including Uber health, SAFETRIP, Lyft and newly launched GoRide by Ford. Customers that want to use wheelchair-accessible vehicles are to make the selection while booking for a ride from their app. This service has been running since introduced, however, Uber and Lyft were sued last year by disability advocates for discrimination; denial of equal access to their on-demand medical transportation. Lawsuits described efforts by the companies to provide wheelchair-accessible vehicles as inadequate, meaning the vehicles are probably not enough to meet up with their service claims, perhaps too expensive to maintain. SAFETRIP and GoRide have taken more serious campaigns in providing WAVs since joining the market but only time can demonstrate how sustainable the service is.
Advanced use of GPS technology
The Global Positioning System has been the major concept of every ride-sharing service since it’s the tool for trip tracking, service reporting and data collection. More features have been introduced, however, to improve the efficiency of on-demand medical transportation. The design automatically accounts for routes and delays due to traffic to reassign drivers promoting smart trips; ensuring that patients are not impeded by late drivers. This results in a quick completion of assignments and faster response from the service provider. The system also accounts for fraud and abuse by flagging any off route journey. Also, GPS technology is currently used by on-demand medical transportation service providers as a tool to review drivers’ performance which is considered for future assignments.
Partnership with other on-demand medical transportation services or healthcare facilities has been the trend in the service since introduced. In 2016, Uber partnered with start-up Circulation and MedStar Health to provide rides for patients in 25 states to over 700 participating health facilities. Lyft which has a strong market competition with Uber is flourishing by joining forces with other firms to expand its coverage network. The company in January 2016 reported fulfilling “2,500 rides per week in New York City alone” through its partnership with National MedTrans Network. Ford’s GoRide at its launch last week partnered with Beaumont Health network to provide on-demand medical transportation service to more than 200 health facilities.
Despite striving well in the global market, Business Insider believes that on-demand medical transportation service may likely face barriers that could stymie its growth and adoption in the future. One of the challenges may come from the fact that the service does not include medical personnel onboard for intervention in case something happens to the riders. “There is some concern over whether drivers will be liable for anything that happens to the patient on route to their appointment.” Other studies are still trying to provide evidence that the transportation system is actually solving the challenge it’s poised to resolve.