HealthTran Providers Convene in Mountain Grove

HealthTran medical and transportation providers, along with representatives from the Missouri Rural Health Association (MRHA) convened in Mountain Grove, Missouri, today (April 14, 2016) for their quarterly meeting to discuss progress on the HealthTran service delivery model.  Participants included representatives from Ozarks Medical Center, Texas County Memorial Hospital, Missouri Ozarks Community Health, Southeast Missouri Transportation Services, Inc. (SMTS), South Howell Ambulance District, and Ozarks County Preventative Transport.  The group focused primarily on sustainability strategies, including new grant opportunities, MRHA’s membership dues structure, expansion efforts, future speaking engagements as well as upcoming Rides to Wellness events and the Get Link’d conference being jointly hosted by MRHA and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services-State Office of Rural Health, November 15-16 in Columbia, Missouri.

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Doris Boeckman, director for MRHA’s Missouri Rides to Wellness initiative, stated, “HealthTran is a model of national significance. This project was put in place long before the national Rides to Wellness initiative came to fruition and is a prime example for meeting the three goals of Rides to Wellness: 1) increase access to care; 2) improve health outcomes; and 3) reduce costs. These goals mirror the goals for national health reform through the Triple Aim.” She further shared that while there is significant interest in HealthTran nationally, there is much still to be done locally to assure that transportation services for individuals with need for such services continue to be available for the long term. “This means developing new and creative ways to finance community transportation options, more local, state and national advocacy to support rural public transportation infrastructure for the State of Missouri, and constant communication among the healthcare and transportation industries to figure out what works and what doesn’t.”

Mary Gordon, HealthTran Program Manager, shared the most recent HealthTran evaluation data that depicts the ridership demographics and growing coverage area. Both she and Joe Lopez, director of Strategic Growth and Development for MRHA, provided a breakdown of the value of HealthTran Services. Specifically, how the cost to provide transportation coordination services independently is nearly double the cost for participating in HealthTran. Additionally, the cost not to participate is reflected in the heavy expense absorbed by the healthcare system in “no shows” and higher cost care.  HealthTran has been successful in improving patient adherence to scheduled appointments as a result of the multiple communications the patient receives from the HealthTran Coordinator and transportation provider about their medical appointment and transportation options.

The challenge for Missouri’s Rides to Wellness and HealthTran moving forward is helping our community leaders, health system administrators and state decision-makers understand that medical transportation is more than just an access issue. Transportation services, such as dialysis, therapies, or chronic disease management, are critical to disease management. Effective disease management requires ongoing, regular transportation – the type of transportation provided by HealthTran. Something that fills the gap between emergency ambulance services and traditional demand-response community and public transportation.

MRHA’s mission is to improve rural access to care through leadership, advocacy, communication, education and research – the association’s foremost priority is to connect the healthcare and transportation industries together to challenge its members to lead, advocate and partner locally to improve access to care through local partnerships

To learn more about Rides to Wellness or HealthTran, or to become an MRHA member, contact MRHA at mrha@cabllc.com. You may also provide your contact information in the form below.