AFFORDABLE, but unable to compete with "CHEAP!"
Posted on May 21, 2010 by MMT |
With no barriers to entry in the NON-EMERGENCY medical transport business, we have seen a lot of individuals with no medical backgrounds or transportation experience purchase a van, add a wheelchair lift or stretcher and apply a magnetic sign to the side of their vehicles. Almost immediately they market hospitals, nursing homes and anyone else who will listen. They offer them the cheapest price to take people to doctors appointments or home from the hospital.
When these type of services first arrived in our local operating areas near Atlanta, we did re-evaluate our rates (we couldn’t have been a very smart business if we hadn’t). But in the end, we decided that in order to continue to provide the service and quality that we were known for, we couldn’t lower our rates and compete with “cheap”.
MMT began in 1997 as an innovator in the medical transport business. Medically trained people on a non- emergency vehicle? Unheard of! New, spotless vans that show up ON TIME? Not a chance! Personnel who understood the medical conditions of the patients that they transport? Had never been done! We were an anomaly and still are. But why? Offering such service in the medical/patient care industry should be a no brainer, right? Well, we thought so. Yet we continue to see these taxi/“medical transport” companies go in and out of business. They survive on high volume, cheap transports. The more patients they can transport in a day, the more money they make. And at the rates that they charge, they have to have high volume to make it! The truth is, it hurts us all. Although most of them only last from a couple of months to a couple of years, while they are out there, they operate with minimal standards, questionable equipment and often make our industry in general look bad.
The sad thing? Often, the social workers at hospitals and nursing homes are the ones who call on these cheap companies. These well meaning, educated patient advocates, often try to arrange the “cheapest” service for their patients in an effort to help them. But this isn’t the place to cut costs. Many don’t realize the risk to the patient, or the liability they are placing their facility in until it’s too late. When a patient is dropped by one of these untrained companies, fails to properly use an oxygen device for which they aren’t trained, or the vehicle is involved in an accident and finds out the company was operating on the owners personal auto policy, that’s when they find out that credentials and reputation matters. Ironically, it’s the private patients whose families call us direct who appreciate the difference in our service. While a patient is in the hospital, most people believe that when a social worker or anyone representing the hospital arranges transportation, they must already know and trust the credentials of the service they are arranging for them.Bottom line, price is important.. especially in today’s economic climate. We know this as a business and a purchaser of our own goods and services. And, it is perfectly fine to choose some products and services based solely on their affordability and price tag. Most educated consumers understand that if a particular service is considerably cheaper than another one, there is a reason why, and its best to find out what that reason is. When arranging medical transportation for someone you love, look at price….but don’t forget to compare quality, safety record, time established and service too!
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Well said, well written article. Quality is an essential aspect of service that too often takes a back seat to price. Ironically, in the long term, quality is the better path to travel. Continued success to your company.