How to efficiently manage will calls
NEMT providers face a wide variety of challenges during their day-to-day operations. Sometimes there’s a simple fix for the problem at hand, and other times, the answer is a little harder to find. The more problems providers encounter, however, the better equipped they are to conquer future challenges. This being said, today we’re focusing on a trip situation that can be tricky for providers if they don’t have a cohesive plan of action—that situation is will calls.
What is a will call?
A will call is simply a ride request that wasn’t planned in advance. For instance, let’s say a passenger got a ride to their doctor’s appointment, but they didn’t know how long the appointment would take. In this scenario, they wouldn’t book a return trip without knowing the pick-up time. Instead, they’ll request a ride as soon as they need one. These types of trips are known as will calls. While they are convenient for the passenger, they can be a hassle for NEMT providers and their schedules. Rather than eliminating will calls entirely, we took a look at some ways NEMT providers can adjust their tactics to better manage this type of trip request.
Invest in helpful NEMT scheduling software
More NEMT providers are switching to an automated scheduling, routing, billing, and dispatching solution every day. Finding the right system for your business allows you to boost efficiency, build better schedules, submit clean claims, and more. Not every software is built to accommodate will calls, though. If this is something your business wants to manage, it’s important to look for a system that has the built-in capability. Some NEMT software systems allow passengers to mark their trip request as a will call, so they enter only a pick-up time into the system. When they finish their appointment and need to request a ride home, the request will be entered into the system as a will call, and the next available driver in the area will fulfill the trip.
Require return trips with some flexibility
One way to avoid will calls is by requiring return rides at the time the trip is booked. Even if a passenger isn’t sure the exact time they’ll be finished with their appointment, they can make an educated guess, then the NEMT provider can create a buffer of time before and after the requested time. This may be an hour, a half hour, or something else, but it gives them a better idea of when they may need to be in that area, and allows providers to have some structure for an unstructured situation.
Decide what works best for your business
When it comes down to it, your business needs to manage will calls in a way that’s best for them. If avoiding will calls entirely is going to eliminate scheduling stress for your team, then that’s the best plan of action. If you’re willing to deal with a little trial and error and test out different ways to manage will calls, that’s great too. A good way to begin thinking about it is by assessing how many will calls you’re booking regularly, or how many passengers have requested them. Once you’ve collected this data, you can figure out how much of your scheduling will calls actually account for. From there, you can talk to your recurring passengers and see if you can eliminate any of the questionable time between getting dropped off and picked up. If a passenger isn’t sure how long the appointment will take the first time they attend this specific type of appointment, they can take note and assume that the next time they will be there for a similar duration. Unfortunately, many appointments vary in time, since wait times and procedures can change from one appointment to the next. That being said, you can’t control everything. If you want to keep customers, you have to make some sacrifices from time to time. It’s important to recognize from a business standpoint where you’re able to do that.
Let technology do the heavy lifting
Technology exists to make your life easier. Even with something as complicated as will calls, technology can help ease the stress and allow for a better scheduling process. If you’re interested in automating your entire NEMT trip process and finding a better way to manage will calls, it’s time to look into non-emergency medical transportation software. Investing in modern, reliable software is a great way to efficiently manage your business. Make sure you book a demo to see a potential software choice in action. iSi Technology has a variety of software products for NEMT providers, Medicaid billers, and homecare billers. To book your free demo, head to our website, submit your information, and our team will be in touch as soon as possible!