Transportation Steps into the National Healthcare Spotlight

Earlier this month in Healthcare Finance News, an article called “8 kinds of waste driving healthcare costs” really caught my attention. I was pleased to see that healthcare transportation has become part of the national healthcare dialogue. Marc Hafer, author of the book Simpler Healthcare, shared his views on eight different areas that could “inhibit patient flow, add cost, increase poor quality and infection and decrease patient and clinician satisfaction.”

First on the list: “transportation.” We know from our discussions with healthcare supply chain managers that transportation is not a core competency of healthcare systems or providers. But, while many organizations outsource many other areas (laundry, food service, EMS), a large number continue to retain their own transportation operations, often with minimal technology for tracking.

But perhaps the tide is turning. According to a 2010 survey conducted by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP), organizations (across multiple industries) expect to continue to increase the size and scope of their outsourcing programs. That survey also found that outsourcing programs are not only expanding, but more importantly, are becoming more strategic.

This certainly is in line with the direction we see in our marketplace (healthcare transportation).  And there is reason it is getting this attention.

What happens if a case doesn’t occur? What happens if a surgery is delayed or a load of blood is lost because of lack of timeliness? What happens to a patient and his or her family who’ve taken time off from work? What about the physician?

Evaluated fully, transportation is a strategic area that plays a significant role in patient care and safety. Patients want to know that they can count on getting the care they need and physicians want to know the tools they need to provide that care are available. Transportation plays a vital role in delivering that high quality care.

As one of the healthcare supply chain managers with whom we met said, “The sign out front says Health Services; it doesn’t say Transportation or Business Services. We have to apply the same methodology that we claim to be successful with on the clinical side to our business side.”

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