Non-emergency medical transport is a growth industry with comparatively low barriers to entry. We share some do’s and don’ts for you to keep in mind as you set out on this new venture.
Patient transport is an essential component of the health and medical services industry, one that extends beyond high-speed travel to emergency services. There are many patients who need to be ferried to and from their homes, appointments or medical facilities, either within a single hospital complex or across a larger area. While the NHS does provide non-emergency transport services, it doesn’t necessarily accommodate the quickly rising demand. That’s where you can come in, provided you follow the tips below.
DO your market research, and be thorough
You can’t afford slipshod research just because medical transport is a growth industry: you need a clear picture of your market and how you can fit in it. How many health centres are in your area? How saturated is the market? Study your competition to find how to get an edge, and figure out which van model is the right one for you to do so.
If local transport services focus on wheelchair-accessible transport, for instance, you could specialize in transporting small groups of people with fewer logistical requirements. A crew van or minibus would, therefore, be a good choice.
This is also the time to consider a franchise business – sometimes there’s no reason to start from scratch, especially if you can rely on a larger player for connections and starting up. Franchising does, however, involve sacrificing some control over your business.
DO start networking right away
Try to connect with potential business partners during your initial market research phase. You’ll want to approach a variety of healthcare institutions to identify potential clientele, as non-emergency medical services providers typically work together with specific medical practitioners, hospitals, and care centres. Call and visit local hospitals, nursing homes, and adult care facilities, as well as physiotherapists, podiatrists, etc. Your potential clients are anyone serving a population whose mobility is reduced, such as people with disabilities, expectant mothers, the injured or the elderly.
DO mind your local regulatory environment
Non-emergency medical transport is less demanding in terms of equipment and training, making it an easier market to enter for newcomers. It also does not require special licensing – though first aid training among drivers will certainly inspire confidence and can give your new enterprise a competitive edge.
You will, however, have to meet standards of accessibility. Transporting patients in wheelchairs, for instance, will require installing a ramp and security equipment inside your van. Ramps can be equipped for either back loading or side loading, and while the former is generally cheaper to install, the latter provides more flexible access during pick-up and drop-off.
DO itemize your services
This may come as a surprise, but presenting clients with a clear chart of your services on offer and their pricing is itself a competitive advantage. Many clients will want one-way services while others will require round-trip or even multiple-stop shuttling. With an easy-to-understand chart of services and prices, you will have a foundation on which to later negotiate frequent customer and bulk deals that will help you not only acquire clients, but also keep them.
DON’T oversell or overbook
Bear in mind that while you are providing non-emergency services, you are part of an industry that is associated with high expectations in terms of standards of care. When booking passengers for a journey, make sure they will have breathing room. People may readily accept some discomfort on public transport or using cheap ride-sharing services, but not when recovering from injury or receiving treatment.
DON’T hire drivers with questionable records
If you are in the business of transporting vulnerable people, your company should inspire complete confidence. This includes hiring employees with flawless driving records and without any history of violent crime or abuse. They should also be amiable, pleasant people (previous experience in the medical field or with first aid also helps.)
DON’T accept requests for emergency transport
In the course of growing your business, you may be asked to provide emergency transport. Regardless of where these requests originate, you must always refer them to the proper channels, i.e. the NHS’ 999 emergency services.
Follow these Do’s and Don’ts to increase your chances of success in this growing industry.