How is it that we as Non-Emergency Medical Transportation providers are able to get so many individuals (many of whom are first-time clients), from their homes to their medical appointments safely and on time? How do we plan routes efficiently within a congested major metropolitan area? In addition to managing the basic logistics involved in picking up and dropping off patients within precise time windows, the NEMT team must also balance ever-changing schedules, traffic, and any unexpected challenges that may occur throughout the course of the day. The answer is “Vehicle Telematics”. Long gone are the days of thumbing through map books, and relying on memory, for determining the quickest and safest routes. Even in-vehicle cell phone usage is minimized. Today, an exciting combination of technologies is available which can revolutionize the transportation industry in general and NEMT providers in particular.
“Vehicle Telematics”, is a term applied to the combination of the following technologies:
Vehicle tracking via GPS
Emergency warning systems
Real time dispatch and communications
To better illustrate how these technologies can combine to vastly improve the effectiveness of a fleet of NEMT vehicles, let’s take you to a typical day for Bob M. a non-emergency medical transportation driver for Holt Transport.
6:00 AM: Bob logs on to his navigation device to access his trips.
6:02 AM: Bob downloads his entire dispatch for the day. This includes trips to either pick up or drop off individuals for appointments. Bob also has a printed hard copy of his trips as a backup in case of an internet connection failure.
6:15 AM: Bob completes his pre-trip vehicle inspection, then selects his first trip which is a pickup. By selecting start, a detailed route is planned complete with turn-by-turn mapping and voice instructions to the exact location. Real-time traffic patterns are used to calculate an accurate ETA.
7:00 AM: Bob arrives at the first pickup location. Dispatch personnel at the office are aware of the driver’s exact location and activity each step of the way. Dispatch can notify clients of delays or changes as necessary over the phone.
8:15 AM: The navigation screen alerts Bob that his off ramp is coming up in 2 miles. A visual image appears on his navigation screen, and a voice message alerts him of the approaching off ramp, and even tells him which lane to be in during the exit.
9:00 AM: Back at the office, the dispatcher receives an add-on trip that requires download to the driver. The new order appears within seconds on Bob’s navigation screen, complete with customer name, address and turn-by-turn instructions.
1:15 PM: A patient calls the dispatch office that they are now ready for a pickup for their return home. The dispatcher downloads the request, along with the name, address, and turn-by-turn directions from Bob’s current location.
4:10 PM: Management can analyze total daily activities for Bob, as well as for the entire fleet. Management is able to customize reports showing pick up and drop off times, vehicle speed data, hard breaking data, hard turn events, idle times and MPG estimates. Management is able to analyze these reports to identify problems and improve safety.
The utilization of “Vehicle Telematics” technologies vastly improves dispatch efficiencies, expedites pickups and drop-offs, influences positive driver behavior and confidence, and improves the passenger experience while enhancing overall safety.