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Pilot winner! Kaizen Health: Assessing Efficient Ways to Increase Health Equity in Grand Rapids, MI

Kaizen health brings technology assets, a broad transportation network, and a commitment to improving care for underserved populations.

Photo of Mindi Knebel
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Health equity describes the opportunity for citizens to attain their “full health potential” while reducing the social determinants of health barriers that often bar patients from accessing quality care within their communities. Integral to the conversation of health equity, transportation, along with other mobility factors that affect community access to care, often neglects to include aspects of mobility that fall outside of traditional transportation options. The Mobile Grand Rapids initiative has recognized parking as a factor within their mobility management plan for the city that impacts the success of their citizens. But how does the Mobile Grand Rapids initiative incorporate citizens whose mobility problems aren’t centered around parking, but instead around the actual vehicular transportation? How do marginalized communities interact with mobility in non-traditional ways and whose best interests aren’t incorporated into the mobility management plan developed for the city? In an effort to find a solution to Grand Rapids mobility management problem within the scopes of health equity, Kaizen Health’s solution incorporates the pillars of successful mobility management, which include social justice, economic development and transportation, within the larger conversation of health equity that looks to capitalize on the success of every citizen in the Grand Rapid community.

Now more than ever, hospital systems and independent providers are noticing that smart investments in the social determinants of health often pay for themselves many times over in quality gains and cost avoidance. In an effort to combine innovative healthcare approaches in accordance with Mobility Grand Rapids as well as working to solve matters related to the social determinants of health, Kaizen Health’s solution works with medical professionals to offer residents with access and transportation challenges in underserved areas transportation to medical appointments, therapy, pharmacies, and other destinations as deemed appropriate by care coordination staff.  Our proposed approach seeks to leverage the Kaizen Health platform to connect the county’s most at-risk populations to the services already being provided in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Together, we hope to see an increase in the appropriate outpatient services, medication adherence, and patient satisfaction, and an attendant decrease in ER visits, missed appointments, and other adverse results.  In accordance with the Grand Rapids Mobility plan of increasing transportation options related to new transportation technology and services, our proposed solution embraces the concept of mobility management as we work to eliminate the barrier of transportation in your communities and develop successful citizens centered around a just social framework.

How it works: A patient comes to your clinic or local emergency department looking for care. Your clinical staff conducts their initial screening and asks the patient about barriers they face with their access to community healthcare. Once deemed eligible for Kaizen Health’s services, the care coordinator enters the patient’s information into our HIPAA compliant software and sets up rides to/from their future appointments. Patients are transported in a vehicle that best fits their health status – rideshare sedan, wheelchair vehicle, etc.  A three-step verification process confirms patient acceptance of the ride and lets medical staff know if the patient will be at their scheduled appointment. If the patient verifies their pick-up time, our transportation services will ensure their arrival 15 minutes before their appointment starts; if not, medical staff can open this appointment time up to other patients and the original patient is contacted for rescheduling.

With the use of the Kaizen Health platform, one of our Chicago clients was able to decrease their number of no-shows and increase attendance at follow-up appointments from 17% to 65% in one year - an improvement of nearly 300%. Our clients are finding that covering the cost of transportation provides a greater financial benefit as opposed to a patient missing their appointment or being treated inpatient longer than necessary due solely to lack of transportation.

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

Health Facilities Management Magazine reported in 2017 that 3.6 million Americans missed care due solely to lack of transportation with no show rates as high as 30%. However, even for those with transportation option, parking cost and availability, as well as the overall cost of travel has become an increasingly complicated factor that’s hinder care access for millions of Americans. Adding to that, many marginalized patient niches, including the elderly, disabled, impaired or impoverished currently lack reliable transportation to desperately needed medical appointments especially in harsh climates. Our solution emphasizes transportation and access to quality healthcare for these most at-risk citizens. Kaizen Health provides social workers, care coordinators and other health professionals in Grand Rapids a platform to increase access to healthcare resources for eligible patients (as determined by a health risk assessment or similar tool).

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Ready to Scale - you have completed and expanded your pilot and are seeing adoption of your solution by your intended user

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

Kaizen Health is an early-stage health technology company working to modernize and streamline access to transportation in partnership with providers, payers, self-insured employers and municipalities. We are passionate about eliminating transportation as a barrier to good medical care, as well as pursuing creative ways to deploy our technology and vehicle network to reduce unnecessary cost in health care and help people live healthier, happier lives. Learn more at:

Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

Our proposed pilot is modeled off a program we are running for twenty hospitals in the Chicago area. To find the same success for this pilot, we want to engage key stakeholders to understand how circumstances in Grand Rapids may warrant a tailored approach. We typically rely on a provider-administered health risk assessment to determine eligibility. With agreed upon applicable uses as well as geographical boundaries, our model allows for us to determine the appropriate success metrics. Conducting a transportation needs assessment, we ensure patient appropriate vehicles are being used to support the anticipated volume. Finally, with continued testing and deployment, as well as ongoing management and metrics tracking, we firmly believe our pilot is capable of demonstrating not only operational effectiveness, but also to show that investment in access to care leads to significant downstream savings in provider operations and cost of care.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

Typical success metrics (KPI) for deployment of our platform include: • Reduction in: o Missed appointments o Late arrivals o ED presentations • Patients engaged • Self-reported patient satisfaction Our recent customer survey determined that 88% of patients would not have made it to their appointment without the transportation services we provide. These impactful achievements are what we strive for and experience shows similar results are entirely attainable inside of six months. On a longer time horizon, we would hope to show improved cost experience and health outcomes for eligible populations.

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Join the conversation:

Photo of Tom Bulten

Hi Mindi: Thank you for the proposal that focuses on access to health care. I'm one of the facilitators on the forum for Grand Rapids. You cite "no show" rates of up to 30% due to transportation access. Has your program in Chicago been able to demonstrate a reduction in "no shows"? Can you describe the business model for Kaizen Health? Are costs borne by the health care provider, the patient, or the insurance company? Please edit any additional information into the body of the proposal to ensure it is seen by the Challenge judges. Thanks!

Photo of Mindi Knebel

Hi Tom Bulten , thanks for your feedback! We have updated our proposal to provide more insights on how our business model and approach to healthcare has shown financial benefit to the healthcare system while being equally beneficial to our patient's health and well-being. We look forward to continued conversation!