Integrated Medical Transport takes off
A year after it began ferrying patients, a Cumberland County medical transport company has opened a branch in York and is sizing up growth opportunities in Central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.
Founded by a trio of health care executives, Integrated Medical Transport LLC promises lower prices and better service than traditional transport companies. It specializes in non-emergency, aka non-emergent, medical transport, which typically involves driving people who are in wheelchairs or confined to bed.
“We created a model to disrupt the ambulance business,” said Tom LaValley, a partner and CFO for Integrated Medical, which is based in Mechanicsburg.
Unlike established ambulance companies, for example, Integrated Medical does not have large buildings to pay for, nor does it pay for people to sit and wait until they are needed. The company is licensed for emergency medical transport and can handle emergency situations involving its own patients, but would respond to 911 calls only in situations that overwhelmed existing EMS services.
As a result, Integrated Medical is able to charge about 20 percent to 30 percent of what its competitors charge, said Matt Rohman, the company’s operations director. A ride that might cost $1,000 costs between $200 and $300.
“We don’t have that old way of thinking, that old way of doing the business,” said Rohman, who worked previously as CEO of Dauphin County-based Honor Health Network, which was sold in 2015 to a nursing home consortium in New York. The third partner, Dan Derr, handles marketing and training.
The company’s lower costs don’t come as a surprise to Paul Christophel, executive director of Holy Spirit EMS, an affiliate of Geisinger. Based in East Pennsboro Township, the ambulance company has 13 locations.
“We’re engaged to be waiting for the next emergency to come in,” said Christophel.
Still, Holy Spirit EMS has taken steps over the last few years to lower costs for non-emergency transports. For example, it has purchased smaller vehicles and hired transport techs, who need less training than traditional emergency medical technicians.
The need for non-emergency service is rising, he said, due to factors such as an aging population and growth in visits to specialty physicians. Holy Spirit EMS also is seeing an increase in behavioral health patients needing transport.
“There’s plenty of demand out there,” Christofel said. And, he added, insurance rarely covers the ride.
Most of Integrated Medical’s customers are heading to health care appointments or family gatherings, LaValley said, and some are paying out of pocket, which makes pricing a factor. The company also contracts to provide services to nursing homes, which cover medically related trips for their residents.
In addition to lower costs, Integrated also takes pride in the extras it offers, LaValley and his partners said. Employees are trained to be sensitive and compassionate to their customers. And its vans are equipped with flat-screen TVs and XM radios. The company also offers beverage service during rides.
“The model sells itself,” Rohman said. “It’s so different from what’s in the market today.”
From one to 60
Integrated Medical started in January 2017 with one employee and one vehicle making about 20 trips per week, said LaValley.
Today the company has 60 employees and 20 vehicles making about 400 trips per week. It is running at a revenue rate of $2 million per year, but expects to finish 2018 even higher, LaValley said.
To kick of 2018 Integrated Medical opened a branch on Fahs Road in West Manchester Township, York County, close to where UPMC Pinnacle is building a new hospital to replace the old Memorial Hospital.
The company eventually would like to cover even more territory, the founders said. Their sights are on secondary markets like Lancaster, Allentown and Scranton.
Stonebridge Health and Rehab in Penn Township, Perry County, has contracted with Integrated Medical for about seven months.
“The pricing is very, very competitive,” said Eric Cline, the facility’s administrator. “But the customer service takes it over the top.”
For example, Cline said, the transport company routinely accommodates last-minute requests from residents who want to visit sick family members in the hospital or at home, Cline said
Residents have other choices for transportation. But, he said, “The majority, if not all of our folks, go to appointments with Integrated.”