Improving Transportation Access to Health Care Services

Principal Investigator:

Kristine Williams


Millions of people across the U.S. are unable to provide their own transportation due to age, disability or income constraints. Although the size of this transportation disadvantaged (TD) population is not fully known, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) states that the population is large, with about 40 million people 65 and over, 46 million people in poverty, and 3.6 million veterans having a service-related disability (GAO-15-110 Transportation Disadvantaged Populations).

In Hillsborough County alone, nearly 600,000 people will be transportation disadvantaged by 2040 (Hillsborough MPO, Transportation Disadvantaged Service Plan 2016-2021). Transportation disadvantaged (TD) persons often experience challenges obtaining transportation to and from non-emergency health care services. In a recent Hillsborough MPO forum, half of the 30 health and social service providers in attendance said their TD clients expressed concerns with transportation every day. Unmet needs included lack of access to and from health education, mental health and substance abuse programs, dialysis centers, follow-up visits, medical testing and other health care services. Forum attendees cited limited availability of public transportation, lack of transportation options serving late-night or weekend needs, payment processing difficulties, high out-of-pocket costs, limited capacity of transit systems to handle wheelchairs and scooters, and inadequate pedestrian facilities and safety as primary reasons for lack of access. Residents of assisted living facilities further expressed an increased sense of isolation due to limited transportation options. Applied research is sorely needed to determine how to help service providers better connect the growing TD population to the health services they need. The impact of such research cannot be overstated given funding shortages for public transportation, pressures to reduce Medicaid spending, growing demand for TD services, and the potential explosion in public costs for late or missed health care treatments. At the same time, emerging technology and mobility on demand services are creating opportunities for cost-effective and innovative solutions. This study will synthesize national best practices in mobility management and service coordination or interagency partnerships relative to health care access for the transportation disadvantaged. It will then apply these findings, using Hillsborough County as a laboratory, in the form of a strategic action plan framework for improving transportation access to health services. One or more agencies will also be selected in collaboration with the Hillsborough MPO for detailed examination and conceptual demonstration of potential applications.
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Grant DTRT13-G-UTC56
USF # 79062-20
Funding Amount $50,000
Project Start Date 1/1/18
Expected Date of Completion 4/30/19
Performing Organization Center for Urban Transportation Research- National Center for Transit Research
Sponsor Organization Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology- University Transportation Centers Program -Department of Transportation
Project Manager Robert L. Bertini Ph.D
Principal Investigator Kristine Williams


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