POSTED ON MAY 22, 2016 AT 10:49 PM. | WRITTEN BY CHRISTOPHER SOPHER
Going to the doctor or hospital is rarely joyous, but if you need help with getting there, it can be particularly daunting.
“There’s a need in transporting people who have trouble getting around, who need a wheelchair or vehicle, or a helping hand to get in and out and to the front door,” says George Fernandez, president of medical transportation startup Ride2MD. “It’s a different level of service than a taxi, Uber, or Lyft.”
What is it? Ride2MD is a medical transportation startup. “We partner with transportation companies that are committed to good customer service, we support them with the paperwork and structure and business. The focus is to work with health systems, and provide affordable and reliable transportation solutions,” says Fernandez.
What problem is it solving? Many people who go to the doctor or a hospital need help getting there. Insurers and health systems already have some provisions for medical transportation (you may have seen Miami-Dade County’s “Special Transportation Service” driving around town), but Fernandez says the record and reliability of existing providers is not great.
“Transportation companies are not paid adequately for providing the service. There are laws in place that set minimums for what types of vehicles can be used. In our opinion it’s artificially high, they’re requiring an expensive vehicle to acquire and maintain. Those factors create opportunities for poor service because companies and drivers are getting paid so little, they have to put as many riders as possible to make financial sense.”
How does it work? Ride2MD connects existing transportation providers, who have drivers and vehicles, with the medical industry and patients needing transportation. By providing a consistent service experience across providers, and helping providers do the difficult work of integrating with health care systems like hospitals, Ride2MD hopes to provide better service at lower cost than what’s currently available.
How’d you get into this space? “My family’s been in healthcare for 30 or 40 years,” says Fernandez. His father, Miguel (Mike) Fernandez, founded Simply Healthcare, which Anthem bought in 2014 for more than $1 billion. “I’ve been working in it for 15 or 20 years. Transportation was always a huge pain point for us on the insurance side. I thought more could be done for the [Simply Healthcare] plan’s members, but I could not find a good solution that impressed me. So I decided I would go out and do it on my own.”
Why do this in Miami? “Miami’s a good market for this because there’s an established fleet, there are transportation companies that already exist. There are companies doing medical transport, but they’re not transporting the clients we’re targeting. So we can bring new business for them.”
“We’ve got the contracts and can provide service from Palm Beach to Key West,” says Fernandez. “A year from now we want to be managing transportation for 500,000 Floridians.”