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How to Handle Will Calls in NEMT

For NEMT businesses, the challenges posed by “will calls” are all too familiar.  

These impromptu transportation requests often strain valuable resources, complicate logistics, and disrupt the delicate balance between serving existing clients and meeting urgent demands

This article explores the significance of will calls and provides practical guidance on effectively handling will calls in NEMT fleets. 

Understanding Will Calls 

Will calls refer to same-day transportation requests. While not classified as emergencies, these requests are important and demand swift attention. They typically occur due to last-minute appointments, flexible scheduling, or uncertain appointment lengths.  

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Managing Return Calls 

One common type of will call involves uncertain appointment durations, often referred to as “return calls.” These return calls occur when riders choose not to book their return trips in advance but schedule them after completing their appointments. 

Effectively managing these return calls alongside existing rides presents a substantial challenge for drivers and transport managers. Complications can arise, especially when all drivers are on one side of the city while the appointment is on the other.  

Encouraging riders to schedule their rides at least two days in advance allows NEMT providers to allocate resources and effectively serve clients. 

Scheduling Will Calls 

The process of scheduling will calls starts when the transport manager confirms with the medical provider the urgency of the appointment. Once the urgency is determined, the trip can be scheduled using an appropriate mode of transportation.  

Will Calls for Private Pay Clients 

While will calls are often associated with Medicaid patients, private pay clients may also need unscheduled rides. As a service provider, it is crucial to give private pay clients comprehensive details on their ride to meet their specific requirements. This involves giving precise instructions for pickup and drop-off locations, as well as informing them about the estimated wait time for their requested ride.  

The Impact of Will Calls on NEMT Fleets 

A high volume of will calls poses significant challenges for scheduling and dispatching staff. The increased workload can lead to human errors and delays on trips. This strain on resources and the need for quick adjustments can compromise operational efficiency and impact the overall quality of service. 

Furthermore, rearranging schedules and handling last-minute requests can incur costs for NEMT providers, including expenses such as overtime pay for staff managing the workload associated with will calls.  

Failing to fulfill will calls can result in dissatisfied customers and potentially damage businesses, as clients requiring urgent transportation may blame the NEMT provider for being unreliable or unresponsive. 

Managing the Impact of Will Calls 

Establishing transparent and efficient communication channels between drivers, dispatchers, and clients is essential for handling will calls effectively. Timely relay of information ensures that drivers are well-prepared and available when needed, minimizing delays and conflicts arising from unexpected changes.  

Implementing effective resource allocation strategies helps optimize capacity and minimize the impact of will calls on existing trips. It involves carefully managing staff availability, vehicle utilization, and scheduling to accommodate pre-scheduled rides and will calls.  

Encouraging clients to provide advance notice for transportation needs helps with better planning and reduces their reliance on last-minute calls. However, maintaining flexibility is essential to handle unforeseen circumstances and accommodate urgent requests as efficiently as possible. 

Challenges in Managing Will Calls 

NEMT providers can implement strategies to balance flexibility and timeliness. It may involve setting buffer times in the schedule to account for potential will calls.  

Another challenge associated with will calls is the unpredictable or changing durations of appointments. NEMT providers often encounter situations where the length of a medical appointment varies, making it challenging to plan and allocate resources effectively.  

Providers can implement strategies for managing unpredictable appointment durations, such as gathering information from clients about the estimated duration of their appointments and considering historical data to anticipate potential time variations. 

Additionally, setting realistic expectations with clients regarding potential wait times or adjusting schedules dynamically based on real-time updates can help mitigate the impact of fluctuating appointment durations.  

Simplify Will Call Management with Tobi

Navigating the complexities of will call management can be overwhelming for NEMT providers, but with Tobi, it becomes effortlessly manageable. 

Real-time Monitoring and Scheduling 

Tobi’s real-time tracking and communication tools provide a clear view of will call trips. Dispatchers can monitor trip statuses and track driver’s location in real time. This helps dispatchers predict accurate arrival times and promptly address any unexpected changes or delays.  

Intelligent Driver Assignment 

Tobi utilizes advanced algorithms to identify available drivers in real-time, ensuring that will calls are promptly assigned to the most suitable driver closest to the customer’s location. This intelligent assignment system reduces idle time and increases operational efficiency.  

Advanced Reporting and Analytics for Informed Decision-Making  

NEMT providers can access detailed reports on trip history, driver performance, and key service metrics. By leveraging these insights, NEMT providers can identify patterns, trends, and areas for improvement. This data-driven approach allows for informed decision-making, optimizing resources, and enhancing overall efficiency in will call management.  

Enhance Will Call Management with Tobi

Adopting a reliable and user-friendly software solution, such as Tobi, can significantly simplify managing will calls. Tobi offers features explicitly tailored for NEMT providers, allowing them to efficiently handle scheduling, dispatching, and real-time communication with drivers and passengers.   

Tobi’s optimized resource allocation ensures that passengers experience minimal wait times, leading to increased satisfaction. The software’s ability to handle will calls promptly and efficiently, along with real-time monitoring and adjustments, enhances reliability and responsiveness.