A recent report by market research firm The Insight Partners predicts that the US non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) sector will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of at least 9% up through 2028, giving it an estimated value of USD15.58 billion by that year. A combination of an aging population, better diagnostic practices, and a wider recognition of chronic illnesses is set to increase the demand for NEMT significantly, presenting a massive opportunity for ventures with the capital to enter the market.

If it’s in your heart to help people, getting into the NEMT business can be fulfilling. Millions of Americans miss important checkups and follow-up appointments each year due to a lack of transportation options, and your help as a NEMT provider will lead to saved lives, better medical outcomes, and better health for our community. Even better, NEMT organizations do not have the hectic pace or the large capital requirements compared to emergency medical transport services.

However, launching and running a successful NEMT business requires more than good intentions. It also demands a lot of careful planning, attention to detail, and, most importantly, passion. In this guide, we’ll outline what you need to do to put your foot in the NEMT industry’s door and make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients, their families, and their communities.

1. Identify Unmet Needs and Opportunities

Just because the NEMT industry is set to grow, it doesn’t mean that viable opportunities are available everywhere. Densely-populated urban centers and remote rural communities both require NEMT services, but the nature of your approach may have to change in either instance to give you the margins you need.

Before you begin your NEMT venture, you’ll want to conduct thorough research to identify specific unmet transportation needs in your target community. Communities with limited transportation options and relatively high populations of seniors, people with disabilities, or patients with chronic ailments are good choices for ensuring sustainable operations. With a realistic understanding of local needs, you’ll be able to make smarter capital investments on which types of vehicles to purchase and provide the kinds of services locals and healthcare providers require.

2. Integrate NEMT Software Solutions

New NEMT ventures have a serious advantage over established competitors in that they won’t need to undergo difficult transitions to integrate modern software solutions. Traumasoft NEMT software solution is designed to help existing and new organizations to operate efficiently. Our software is easy to use, and the level of support we provide ensures that you will have a highly successful venture. Having Traumasoft’s modern NEMT software enables you to streamline operations including scheduling, dispatching, and billing processes, reducing your organization’s growing pains and ensuring cost-effective transportation services.

3. Familiarize Yourself with Local Regulations

Aside from the federal regulations that cover all NEMT providers, every state, county, city, and special administrative division will have its own list of requirements that need to be complied with so that you can begin operations and secure funding. Getting in touch with legal experts who understand the healthcare regulatory landscape that applies to your service area will help you avoid the many inevitable regulatory challenges you’ll need to overcome.

4. Obtain Necessary Licenses and Permits

Regardless of your service area, you will doubtlessly need multiple licenses and permits to begin legally operating as a NEMT service. Moreover, these documents may have differing renewal cycles that you’ll have to keep up with to maintain operations.

Staying on top of your business licenses, vehicle permits, driver certifications, and other necessary paperwork can be made much simpler by implementing Traumasoft’s NEMT software, where you can maintain full visibility of the necessary documentations and guarantee your business’s continued operations.

5. Invest in Reliable Vehicles and Equipment

Assets like vehicles, stretchers, and wheelchairs can comprise a healthy chunk of your NEMT venture’s initial operating capital. Fortunately, NEMT equipment does not usually have to undergo the rough handling like it would in emergency services. Regardless, it’s still a good idea to invest in reliable vehicles and medical equipment, since these will be subject to daily wear and tear.

Try to choose vehicle and equipment models with a known reputation for reliability, prioritizing the ones with extensive warranties and after-sales service. Keep track of these assets’ lifecycles with your Traumasoft’s Asset Management features so that you’re able to proactively maintain and replace your assets. With better-maintained equipment and vehicles, your venture will be able to offer consistently safe and comfortable rides and gain repeat businesses.

6. Secure Adequate Insurance Coverage

All the expensive capital assets your organization acquires need to be insured, either as a requirement for operating within your service area or as a smart precautionary measure. Make sure to prioritize the coverage needed by your vehicles and crews so that they can safely perform essential business operations.

7. Build a Qualified and Compassionate Team

While there is a rising demand for NEMT services, there is an ongoing shortage of qualified healthcare staff, not just in the US but worldwide. With the typical avenues for healthcare labor recruitment now drying up, your NEMT venture must invest resources not just in recruitment and training, but also in retention. Traumasoft’s NEMT software is designed to help you meet these staffing challenges by offering team management capabilities designed with both your organization and staff in mind.

8. Develop Strategic Partnerships with Local Health Facilities

Before you begin operations, create a plan for building strong relationships within the healthcare community. Most NEMT transport requests and scheduling come from healthcare providers, hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes, making these facilities extremely important for your growing business. Transportation contracts from these facilities are the lifeblood of many NEMT businesses and can be key to securing sustained growth in your venture’s early days.

9. Consider Your Marketing Strategies

Making outbound sales calls to healthcare institutions and care facilities can take up a lot of your time. For that reason, you’ll want to develop a marketing strategy that makes your business known to these institutions and the wider community so that you’re on top of mind when anyone needs non-emergency medical transport. Consider using email marketing, local community events, and networking to gain trust and build your business’s brand presence.

10. Don’t Lose Sight of Safety and Compliance

As your NEMT venture gains momentum, it can be easy to lose sight of vehicle maintenance, driver training, and hygiene standards. If you let these things slide, you will eventually lose some of the trust that you managed to gain within your community. Using Traumasoft’s NEMT solution ensures strict adherence to safety protocols by inputting maintenance schedules and alerts for all your critical assets.

11. Provide Exceptional Customer Care

Where available, ride-share app services are likely to be doing much of the work that should be done by NEMTs, degrading patient outcomes in the process. This means that you must give the community a reason to choose your services over these alternatives. Each trip your crews make must demonstrate that you prioritize your passengers’ comfort, medical needs, and well-being throughout the transportation journey. With Traumasoft’s solutions, you can guarantee close adherence to NEMT best practices and provide each passenger with the needed level of care.

12. Monitor Financial Performance

Being in the NEMT business comes with a multitude of running costs that could easily get out of hand if you don’t pay attention to them. Use good fiscal sense by hiring experienced accountants and billing teams, or outsource to professionals like Versatile Revenue Management who understand healthcare services. Carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of hiring a firm versus hiring an employee before you make a decision.

13. Build a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Today’s healthcare workers are much more likely to leave if they’re not given new challenges and skills. From the beginning, your organization must aim to provide your staff not just the opportunities, but also the time to improve on their professional skills. To understand which skills are worth investing time in, encourage feedback from staff as well as from clients and stakeholders.

14. Stay Committed to Providing Excellent Service

Finally, the hardest part isn’t starting the business, it’s maintaining your initial motivation. The market outlook for NEMT is excellent, but there’s limitations. If your business starts developing a reputation as a less desirable option among patients and healthcare providers, it will eventually struggle to compete against alternatives that are bound to develop amidst the growing demand for NEMT services. Staying committed to good service will set the bar higher for your competition, and set your operations up for success even when market opportunities begin to shift.

Driving Forward: Overcoming Your NEMT Startup’s Initial Obstacles

While the medium and long-term prospects for US-based NEMT businesses are likely going to remain positive throughout the rest of the 2020s, starting and maintaining one is not necessarily going to be straightforward. The NEMT industry is subject to several regulatory and market challenges that have to be proactively addressed if you want your venture to succeed. By following these guidelines, you can guarantee consistent, well-appreciated transportation services for marginalized patients in your community, building a thriving organization in the process.

About Traumasoft

Traumasoft is one truly integrated product for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) that drives timely efficiencies. We are an all-in-one system capable of managing every aspect of your EMS operations. One system comprised of interconnected solutions handles staff, integrates processes, manages assets, and grows revenue. Schedule a demo today to see how we can help you increase operation efficiency and profitability.