Five Ways NEMT Software Can Improve Patient Throughput

Ellen Williams
Hospital Care Manager working on patient's discharge.

Picture this scenario: You’ve just successfully treated a patient in the Emergency Department (ED), and they are now stable and ready to be discharged. However, a seemingly minor yet frustrating issue arises – the patient lacks a means of transportation to get back home. You’ve navigated through calls with their insurance and painstakingly dialed numerous transportation providers, all to secure a ride for your patient that doesn’t even show up until several hours after the requested pickup time. This situation is all too common. The process of arranging transportation can be a time-consuming hassle, stealing precious time that could have been spent caring for other patients and causing bottlenecks that have a trickle-down effect on the hospital’s average length-of-stay and internal costs.  

A recent study underscores this concern: the average patient length-of-stay in hospitals increased by 19.2% last year compared to 2019 levels. A report by Sg2 provides further insight, projecting that inpatient volumes will remain relatively stable over the next decade, albeit accompanied by an anticipated 8% increase in inpatient length-of-stay. There are a range of factors that contribute to prolonged length-of-stay – from chronic illness and complex treatments to slow discharges caused by factors like understaffing, pending test results, coordinating home health or nursing home arrangements, and the waiting game for insurance approvals. Amidst all these challenges, transportation problems stand out as a significant issue that can be easily overcome by using Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) software.  

Here are five ways that NEMT software can improve patient throughput:  


1. More Efficient Ride Booking:  

Many hospitals share tales of extreme inefficiencies in the time it takes for care coordinators to book a patient’s ride. These inefficiencies typically stem from disjointed systems, the manual process of reaching out to transportation providers, missed connections between drivers and patients, and a lack of visibility into the ride’s status. Staff spend an average of 20-30 minutes each time they arrange transportation for a patient. 

Instead of calling a slew of different transportation companies looking for an available driver, NEMT software simplifies this process. It offers a comprehensive workflow where care coordinators can schedule a ride digitally. In this model, the time-consuming, manual ride ordering process is replaced by an automated workflow where transportation providers are notified digitally, allowing them to communicate their availability and estimated time of arrival (ETA) in real-time. With further integration capabilities with hospitals’ existing software ecosystem, this workflow becomes even more expedient. Users typically spend less than 5 minutes on average when booking a ride, freeing up care coordinators to spend more time with their patients.  

2. Faster Ride Dispatching:  

For hospitals with a communication center that manages transportation dispatch, NEMT software provides an added boost to efficiency. The software saves dispatchers from fielding thousands of calls from care coordinators requesting transportation for their patients. Instead, dispatchers can access ride requests digitally, offering added accuracy enhancements by mitigating scenarios where misunderstandings could potentially involve critical patient medical details and ride requirements. 

When NEMT software is integrated with communication centers’ computer-aided-dispatch (CAD) software, the benefits extend further. This allows both care coordinators and dispatchers to gain real-time visibility into the status of a ride – from the time the transportation provider is dispatched, to the time he/she drops off the patient at their intended destination. This visibility into ride status contributes to cohesion between staff members and greater transparency with patients. 

3. Advanced Reporting: 

NEMT software provides hospital administrators with insightful data, metrics, and reporting functionalities, helping them to better understand trends in patient transportation performance. One example of a valuable reporting capability is accessing ETA deviations – a measure indicating the variance between requested ride start times and actual pick-up times. Reducing ETA deviations translates to accelerated transportation provider response times, which contributes to higher patient satisfaction and a shorter length-of-stay.  

4. Integrations with EMR Systems:  

We’ve mentioned the benefits that a CAD integration provides but have yet to share the benefits of integrating NEMT software with a hospital’s electronic medical record (EMR) system. The ability to integrate EMR allows for essential patient information, like height, weight, date of birth, and insurance data, to automatically populate when a care coordinator books a ride. This automated data transfer eliminates the manual entry of patient details, saving substantial time and reducing the potential for errors. By integrating these systems, ride requesters have a more seamless ride booking experience, and can have greater confidence in the accuracy of patient data that they have submitted. 

5. Automated Ride Status Notifications:  

Finally, NEMT software can provide automated notifications to keep care coordinators in the loop regarding their patient’s ride status, even in situations when they’re on-the-go and unable to access their desktop. Through integrating with TigerConnect, a HIPAA-compliant messaging platform, care coordinators not only receive real-time updates via text while on the move but can also tag other team members who can continue receiving notifications, even beyond the care coordinator’s work hours.  

In today’s landscape of lengthier hospital stays, providing an expedient discharge process is a must. One of the ways to accomplish this is by ensuring efficient, accurate, and reliable patient transportation. Reflecting back on the scenario mentioned at the start where a patient’s timely discharge was hindered by transportation hurdles, NEMT software has the power to alleviate this headache by providing a comprehensive solution that streamlines the entire transportation workflow.