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Michigan’s Statewide Approach to Connecting Transportation & Information

Thank you to guest blogger Vanessa V. Hansle, CEO/COO, Michigan Transportation Connection, and to Tom Page, Executive Director, Michigan 2-1-1 and Emily Houk, CEO, Research to Practice Consulting, LLC for preparing this post.

The Michigan Transportation Connection (MTC): A Statewide Approach to Connecting Transportation & Information

Finding transportation can be a daunting task for individuals who need specialized transportation services. Having a centralized source of information on available transportation makes identifying resources easier for consumers. Michigan 2-1-1 and Michigan Transportation Connection (MTC) have partnered to remove barriers to allow for a more flexible and efficient approach in delivering services. Service coordination is funded with FTA dollars that MTC receives from the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Michigan Transportation Connection is a 501(c)3 non-profit, statewide transportation brokerage. MTC utilizes a mobility management strategy for providing responsive transportation to meet individual customer needs through a wide range of transportation options and service providers. MTC’s comprehensive transportation provider network includes public transit, nonprofit and public human service agency providers, private providers ranging from taxi companies to specialized NEMT providers, ferries, and ambulance providers as necessary, as well as volunteer drivers, and friends/family.

One of MTC’s key characteristics is the use of a coordinated care approach to transportation. Ten Mobility Managers operating from regional Mobility Management Centers (MMC) build community networks and awareness around transit needs. They develop plans to coordinate region-wide working partnerships, and establish coalitions and business relationships with multiple transportation providers, social service providers and other stakeholders. The Mobility Managers work with MTC Transportation Coordinators to coordinate rides by identifying the most appropriate transportation provider to provide a trip. The challenge is to balance customer needs with cost and service efficiency considerations. Transportation providers must meet stringent guidelines regarding customer safety, comfort and trip efficiency.

MTC and a statewide network of partner organizations work together to deliver services, raise awareness and fund services. Partners include:

  • Michigan 2-1-1 maintains a database of transportation-related resources (within their broader database of health and human service agencies/providers and resources). The 2-1-1 statewide contact management platform routes calls and requests for transportation-related services to MTC’s Mobility Management Centers and monitors queue lines and hold times to ensure responsiveness to all callers.
  • The Hospital Council of East Central Michigan integrates MTC’s Transportation Trip Scheduling and Management Software (CorTran) with their org web- based application designed to connect transportation providers with more than 2000 transportation prescribers who work to organize and coordinate travel for patients to get to appointments in 19 health systems.

Pilot Project

In 2016, MTC conducted a one-year pilot project (subsequently extended for two years with additional matching funds) [i] in partnership with the Midland Area Community Foundation in Central/Northeast Michigan (Clare, Gladwin and Midland Counties). MTC served as a  transportation broker, using  a wide range of transportation options to meet unmet needs for non-emergency medical transportation that are identified in the tri county region. As part of the pilot, MTC developed memoranda of understanding with the three county Department of Health and Human Services offices. The agreements enable MTC to receive reimbursement for transporting their Medicaid beneficiaries. MTC also established a Mobility Management Center operating out of the Region VII Area Agency on Aging. Michigan 2-1-1 worked in collaboration with MTC to ensure seamless call management and assist with not only responding directly to callers in need of transportation assistance, but also assured that 2-1-1 callers with needs beyond transportation were also helped.

Data collected in 2016 showed that the collaboration established through this pilot project promoted both better solutions for callers with transportation needs and cost savings in terms of program efficiency. Ultimately, the goal of delivering 5,400 trips in a year was exceeded, demonstrating significant unmet need for non-emergency transportation, as well as the true costs of assisting individuals to access critical medical follow-up care.

Statewide Expansion through Rides to Wellness

MTC has been awarded a Rides to Wellness grant of $1,000,000 to build the infrastructure to support transportation coordination and respond to local circumstances and needs throughout the state. The project has started and will operate for one year. Ten Regional Mobility Management Centers housed in Transit Agencies, Area Agencies on Aging, or 2-1-1 Contact Centers will serve as brokers for counties in each region of the state. Each MMC will provide 10 hours of service Monday through Friday with one full-time or two part- time Transportation Coordinators. Computer hardware, CorTran software, technical assistance and maintenance will be provided. MTC will continue to partner with 2-1-1 and utilize its statewide call center platform to receive calls either through MTC’s toll free number or the 2-1-1 number. MTC will continue to receive transportation referrals from 2-1-1.

The original grant of $175,000 from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund for one year was matched by the two local foundations, the Gerstacker Foundation and the Strosacker Foundation, to extend the pilot for two years.

About the Authors:

Vanessa Hansle is CEO of the Michigan Transportation Connection, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization transportation brokerage, delivers Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) and other specialized transportation services in the state of Michigan using a mobility management strategy. Previously, Ms. Hansle served as the Mobility Management Coordinator for the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (TheRide) and as Director of their RideConnect program.

Tom Page is the Executive Director of Michigan 2-1-1, supporting and coordinating the work of eight call centers providing statewide 2-1-1 service.  He has been active in the 2-1-1 movement since 2003. He previously served as Executive Director of Washington Information Network 2-1-1, where he managed the successful plan, design, and implementation of Washington State’s 2-1-1 system, and also served as director of the 2-1-1 Maryland system.  In these roles, he has been actively involved with 2-1-1 development nationally as a co-founder of both the 2-1-1 State Directors Association and 2-1-1 US.

Emily Houk is a communications and outreach expert for implementation of non-profit programs and initiatives. She is owner of Research to Practice Consulting, LLC.




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