I have found the greater need for Veterans is reliable, affordable, transportation to their medical appointments. Missed appointments and preventive care visits lead to influx emergency care, resulting in increased expenses for everyone. The solution is Coordinated Transporation Scheduling through Emerging Technology. It would be very efficient for medical appointment scheduler personnel to coordinate the transportation needs. This is how I envision it will work:
1. The Veteran calls to schedule an appointment
2. The Appointment scheduler advises which date is available and asks if transportation services will be needed.
3. The Veteran confirms transportation services will be needed either round-trip or one-way, then confirm the pick-up address location.
4. The Appointment scheduler gives the Veteran a confirmation number for this service and of course, thanks them for their call.
Now the question, what’s the point of the confirmation number and asking if transportation is needed? Here are the next steps which involves a Coordinated Integrated Technology System (CITS):
1. The CITS system is integrated with the Appointment Scheduler system.
2. All contracted Transportation providers (whether volunteer or private) are registered with this system and have created a profile consisting of their available services, hours of operation, service areas, special needs accommodated, etc.
3. These transportation providers will log into the CITS system to see what transportation has been scheduled that requires transportation in their service areas. They will need to accept or reject.
4. If accepted, then that means that transportation provider has accepted they will provide transportation service for that appointment.
5. If rejected, that transportation request will roll over to other providers in the system until it is accepted.
6. This coordination system should also be integrated with GIS and GPS to have a complete technology solution.
7. Coordinated training and setup should be available for these transportation providers, which involves everyone receiving the same training, information, and materials regardless of your state.
Lastly, but certainly not least, where would this funding come from to support this effort and make it attractive for providers to join and Veterans affordable to use?
1. Just as they have sales tax, school tax, cell phone tax, etc. there should be a tax VET transportation tax that is collected from citizens to fund this initiative; this will need to be further evaluated to determine what would be the best tax structure for this where a nominal tax is collected. For example if you had a population of 3M people and you collected .15 tax, that would be a total of $450K…cents adds up!
2. FTA or VTS should look into funding this effort by eliminating other programs that are not proven productive programs.
3. VA Hospitals and other service entities should pay into this effort as it will cut down on missed appointments, increased quality of service delivery, and emergency care.
These ideas can be better evolved, but this should be a good starting point of conversation.