Providing no-cost transport to patients in an underserved area: Impact on access to physical therapy

Physiotherapy theory and practice

Background: Barriers to accessing outpatient health care services are common and contribute to poor health outcomes. We describe the efforts of a private practice physical therapy (PT) clinic to reduce these barriers by offering a door-to-door van service at no cost to patients.

Methods: Clinic records and national census databases were retrospectively reviewed to explore the impact of offering no-cost van rides to patients attending outpatient PT appointments. We used descriptive statistics and linear regression to describe volume of utilization of the van service over a 40-month period. Paired t-tests compared PT clinic attendance rates (percentage of scheduled visits that were attended) before and after implementation of the van service.

Results: Use of the van service increased significantly over time, from a mean of 83 riders per month in 2010 to 205 riders per month in 2013 (p < 0.001). Overall clinic attendance rate increased from 80.1% to 84.1% after implementation of the service (p = 0.002). Following introduction of the van service, 48% of patients using the van, compared to 25% of clinic patients overall, were uninsured or insured by Medicaid.

Conclusion: Use of the van service increased over time, and availability of no-cost van transportation was associated with increased visit attendance for patients at an outpatient PT clinic.

Bove AM, Gough ST, Hausmann LRM. Providing no-cost transport to patients in an underserved area: Impact on access to physical therapy. Physiother Theory Pract. 2018:1-6. PMID: 29601223. DOI: 10.1080/09593985.2018.1457115.

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Resource Type: 
Peer Reviewed Research
Study Design: 
Other Study Design
Social Determinant of Health: 
Screening Research: