NEMT vs. ridesharing
In today’s world, rideshare companies like Uber and lyft are ubiquitous. The names “Uber” and “Lyft” have adopted the same sort of meaning as the name “Google.” Much like people say “I’ll Google it” when they mean search the web for something, people don’t say, “I’m calling a cab.” They say, “I’m calling an Uber.” We all know what a rideshare company is, but the same can’t be said for NEMT companies. If you’re here, you’ve probably at least heard of NEMT, and maybe you’re wondering what the difference between rideshare transportation and NEMT is, or if there even is a difference. The first thing you should know is the two are very different, but they’re also quite similar. If you’re thinking about starting your own transportation company, non-emergency medical transportation is the best route to take. We broke down the difference between rideshare and NEMT companies, and took a look at how you can start your own business.
What is ridesharing?
Put simply, ridesharing is the process of matching passengers with drivers in order to take them from one location to another. Ridesharing trips are typically requested via a mobile app in which the passenger puts in the precise location of their desired drop-off point. A driver receives this information, along with the passenger’s current location, and is able to accept the ride and pick up the passenger.
Is it possible to start a rideshare business?
The short answer is yes, it’s possible to start your own rideshare company. The long answer is it’s not exactly a simple task. One of the biggest barriers to entry is the fact that Uber and Lyft exist nearly everywhere these days. Everyone knows these names, and the brands have formed a trustworthy relationship, for the most part, with passengers who regularly use their services. If someone needs a ride, 9 times out of 10 they’re going to choose the service that they’ve heard of before, which means if you’re looking to start a rideshare business, you need to offer something that Uber and Lyft aren’t. Maybe you’re thinking about a safe way to transport kids to their sports practices after school (assuming they need to leave the school and a bus isn’t an option). This is definitely a niche situation, but again, there’s not an easy solution. The other big obstacle here is money. Developing a rideshare app from scratch can range from $67,000 – $150,000, and that’s without considering any other business costs. If the rideshare business is something you’re passionate about, it’s worth moving forward with your business plans. Otherwise, it’s probably not worth the money or effort. If you’re interested in the transportation industry but don’t think the rideshare industry is for you, non-emergency medical transportation is a lucrative business avenue.
What is NEMT?
Non-emergency medical transportation is a Medicaid benefit that gives beneficiaries transportation to and from healthcare visits. NEMT passengers are typically people who aren’t able to drive themselves or travel alone, making it a vital program. As US citizens continue to age, accessible non-emergency medical transportation becomes even more important, which is why it’s a great option for those looking to tap into the transportation industry. Unlike ridesharing, NEMT can’t be used to go anywhere—the store, the movies, a concert—but it’s just as, if not more, important. No matter where you’re located, NEMT is important. If you’re thinking about starting an NEMT business, there’s never been a better time.
How to become part of the NEMT industry
If you’re determined to make a difference in the world, starting an NEMT business is a great first step. The details of your business will depend on your ultimate goals. Do you want to provide trips in your immediate area with just one or two vehicles, or do you have dreams of doing region-wide trips with a large fleet. These two goals obviously require very different paths to get there. This is why NEMT is a viable option for most aspiring business owners—you can do as much or as little with it as you want. If you’re ready to start building your business, here are a few things you should consider, both in the beginning and when you become more established:
Build your fleet
If you think you need to run out to a car dealership and purchase new vehicles at sticker price, think again. If you’re only planning on doing ambulatory trips, you don’t need to purchase a new vehicle at all—that is, if you have a reliable personal vehicle already. This drastically reduces your start-up costs, and even if you decide you want to purchase another vehicle in the future, you’ll already have saved money up front. If you want to eventually do wheelchair trips, it might be worth starting small with ambulatory to save money and forge relationships, then incorporate wheelchair trips when you have the finances and experience to do so.
Secure broker contracts
If you want to get trips fast, you need to sign broker contracts as soon as possible. Transportation brokers can be local, regional, and national, and each has its own set of benefits. Decide which brokers are going to align with your business goals, and request a partnership with them. The sooner you have broker contracts, the sooner you have daily trips available to you.
Invest in NEMT routing software
You won’t need software at your business right away, but it’s important to keep it on your radar. Software automates every aspect of the NEMT process to save you time and money. It builds efficient routes by searching for multiload opportunities in every trip, automatically schedules trips with a seamless broker integration, makes live dispatching adjustments if a better route is available, and checks for billing errors in every claim. When you have at least five vehicles in your fleet, you need software on your side. If you’re already in this position, it’s time to find a product that works for your business. Get in touch with the team at iSi Technology today to explore your software options and book your free demo.