Disrupting the pathways of Social Determinants of Health: the transportation solution

Guest Editor Sarianne Gruber (@subtleimpact) and MovedbyMetrics examines one aspect of social determinants of health, transportation. Social factors have been called the missing links in population health: others are housing, food, finances, and employment. This is not only affordable ‘a to b’ transportation, but also clean, safe and tailored to the patient’s needs. Sarianne interviewed Todd Thomas, then of Veyo and now of Zendrive, a company developing data analytics to make roads safer and to save lives through measuring driver behavior and coaching. Other companies in Veyo’s area are Uber Health and Circulation [TTA 10 Nov].

More and more people are starting to have conversations around the Social Determinants of Health.  And for the first time, the c-suite within healthcare companies are talking about transportation.  People haven’t talked about transportation before because there haven’t been good choices, only poor and expensive service levels. Transportation has always been a low budget item and a cost center. Now people are talking about transportation as a key link in the complete continuum of care. If we are talking about treating the complete person, a huge part of that is making sure they are getting to their treatments on time every time, picking up their pharmaceuticals and shopping to get fresh, clean food. These things make a huge impact in the lives of patients and the members.  It is great that people are becoming aware of transportation and talking about it.Todd Thomas, VP Strategic Business Development at Veyo

Social Determinants of Health, as recognized by the World Health Organization, are the conditions in which people are born, grow up, live, work and age, together with “the systems” that are put in place to deal with illness. Transportation is one of those systems.  In a conversation with Todd Thomas, VP of Strategic Business Development at Veyo, he chronicled how the digitization of this sector broke barriers in Non-Emergency Medical Transportation.  The medical transportation, as Thomas described, was very challenged for decades with the same nationwide providers, all delivering the same levels of service and at the same price.  None had any initiative to adapt to new technologies or evolve their business models.  Medical professionals and companies across the US had come to expect poor service as the norm.  It wasn’t until a couple of years ago when the transportation network companies, the TNCs such as Uber and Lyft, came onboard into the market and really changed transportation in the US and in the world. Thomas contends that what the TNCs did for the transportation world has really turned things upside down, and absolutely raised the level of customer expectations and raised standard of what transportation was going to be.  And ultimately closed a huge care gap for transportation-dependent patients.

Community Partnership: Veyo and UnitedHealthcare Maryvale Clinic
Veyo has a “neat program” in partnership with UnitedHealthcare going on in Arizona.  UnitedHealthcare started a community program called myCommunity Connect.  This pilot was aimed at improving the well-being of families via social services and community programs to help with employment opportunities, housing, and healthy meals. “They placed their community center in Maryvale, Arizona, an area that has a great need. There isn’t a lot of things readily available, and it is where we can address social determinants of health. We partnered with them to help serve that community,” stated Thomas. Veyo provided additional transportation to community members whether they were a part of the UnitedHealthcare community or not.  Getting community members to job interviews, to social services and organizations, truly made “inroads” on the social determinants within that particular area. (More about the opening of the myCommunity Connect™ Center located in the Maryvale Community Service Center in Phoenix in the article UnitedHealthcare Maryvale clinic wants to be a national model.)

The Data Science of Patient-Centered Care
Veyo collects a ton of data. All of the encounter data details every trip request from start point to destination and tracks all population segments by request type. Healthcare partners use the shared information to better create insights about members, and how they can best be served. All the transportation data, both scheduled and requested, is used to predict where the highest-volume markets are for any specific time frame. Real-time data optimization is run through Veyo’s predictive analytics platform, Dynamic Hot Spots. “We have a fantastic data scientist team and a fantastic algorithm team.  They are constantly trying to improve the algorithms we use so we can accurately predict the transportation required in a specific market.  We share that information with our drivers, so they know specifically where they can be for picking up rides and the patients’ get a quick response time. It is a learning system every day, and as we collect more data, the system becomes more accurate.  We also have a lot of great live feeds with direct weather information and direct traffic information,” expressed Thomas.

 Drivers of Compassion: The Social Difference to Service
“We have an incredible pool of drivers. A lot are self-selected, nursing students and med-tech students who want to move into healthcare, while they are putting themselves through school. They can earn money and gain patient-interaction experience, plus they really value their time with the patients.  We give them first aid and CPR training as well as sensitivity training,” imparted Thomas. A big concern is about patient information, and Veyo is extremely sensitive about that.  Drivers are trained in HIPAA compliance and are really well prepared to take great care of these patients. Thomas conveyed how their drivers take a lot of pride in taking care of patients and how they really enjoy that experience. He commended them by stating, “They know that a lot of these patients are on the way to bad news or on the way back from bad news. For a dialysis patient, it is part of their daily routine and it is not pleasant.  So if they can make that day a little bit brighter by providing them a quick, comfortable, clean ride and a little friendly conversation, the drivers feel a lot of rewards.”

Kudos to Veyo. Their success supersedes technology with their commitment to helping humanity.

This article was originally published in RCM Answers and is republished here with permission and with appreciation to Sarianne plus Answers Media Company LLC’s Roberta Mullins and Carol Flagg.

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