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Bright Idea: Rural Area Identifies Transportation Solution

October 30, 2019

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The REACH Foundation is continually impressed with the bright ideas that come from our partners, and we want to share these smart ideas with others. Here is an idea that comes from our partners at the Health Care Coalition (HCC) of Lafayette County, a health care collaborative and network serving Lafayette County, Mo., and surrounding areas.

The Issue

Multiple HCC patients expressed difficulty getting to their health care appointments due to lack of transportation or the financial resources for fuel, car payments and insurance. This challenge echoed the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services 2016-17 Rural Health Plan’s identification of transportation as a limiting factor in a community’s ability to address health and quality of life. For low-income individuals and families, and often for the aging, transportation becomes an even more significant issue.

HCC recognized the need for a solution for its patients and community partners to get them where they needed to go for health and social needs. However, there was a gap in providers outside of Medicaid transportation and services for those age 60 and older. Additionally, there was only one taxi service for the county, which provided service on a limited basis for a high cost.

The Solution

In collaboration with the Missouri Rural Health Association (MRHA), a plan was developed to address transportation barriers for rural communities in Missouri. The solution became known as HealthTran, an innovative, progressive and collaborative Mobility Coordination and Service Program.

Implementation

HealthTran is a cloud-based technology platform that can be uploaded with the specific transportation services, routes, rates and guidelines in a geographic region or service area. HealthTran members are provided secure access to the software platform to schedule rides needed immediately or up to 30 days in advance. Local volunteers transport patients to and from their medical, dental and behavioral health appointments.

HCC implemented its program, called West Central HealthTran, in June 2018 and since then has arranged over 1,400 rides for residents of West Central Missouri. Many of these rides have been for patients in urgent need of reliable rides to appointments for the treatment of chronic diseases, such as dialysis.

Lessons Learned

The integration of technology and mobility software in HCC’s health center and network processes has been the greatest challenge related to HealthTran, due to technology’s constant state of improvement. However, through collaboration with multiple vendors, funders, community partners and health care leaders, the challenge has been managed with problem-solving and solution-driven conversations.

Suzanne Smith, Director of Network Development, notes that the supportive relationships formed between the drivers and riders have been an unexpected “win” for the program.

For more information about the HCC or the HealthTran program, contact Suzanne Smith

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