Go the extra mile. That’s the mission for all service-based businesses. For LifeCare Medical Services, it’s a way of life.
Established in 1989 as a private ambulance company, LifeCare offers 24/7 medical transportation — emergency and non-emergency — to hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living and independent living facilities in northeast, central and southwest Ohio. For its client facilities, LifeCare’s Communication Center also manages other transportation services, such as cab service, shuttle service, and courier service.
“We are dedicated to providing excellent patient care and customer service to all of the medical facilities, communities and patients we serve,” says Jim Caplinger, President of LifeCare.
Although that may sound like rhetoric, it’s based on this fact: 99.9 percent of respondents to customer satisfaction surveys conducted after every LifeCare transport gave the company high marks.
Caplinger, who has been involved in emergency medical services for more than 40 years, is the owner of LifeCare. After working his way up from EMT to chief operating officer of another large regional ambulance company, he acquired LifeCare in 1999. Within five years, the company grew 2,100 percent under his leadership. Since then, his company has garnered three Inc. 5000 awards for being one of the fastest-growing private companies in America.
Headquartered in Akron, Ohio, LifeCare provides emergency and non-emergency medical transportation services to residents of northeastern and southwestern Ohio.
Today, LifeCare employs 246 people at its headquarters in Uniontown and satellite locations in Stark, Summit, Cuyahoga, Medina and Hamilton counties. Its fleet includes 48 ambulances, two of which are specially equipped bariatric units. Client hospitals currently include Cleveland Clinic, Akron General, Marymount Hospital, South Pointe Hospital, Medina Hospital, Southwest General, Western Reserve Hospital, Select Specialty Hospital, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Drake Hospital in southwest Ohio
“We’re reliable, we’re consistently (95 to 98 percent) on time, and we offer outstanding patient care,” says Caplinger. “That’s why these hospitals requested our services.”
Outstanding people, outstanding service
LifeCare prides itself in hiring knowledgeable and experienced employees who are highly competent in performing their duties and more than willing to go that extra mile.
“This company’s management team has an excellent reputation for providing outstanding patient care. We hire people who will contribute to that reputation,” says Rick Reed, LifeCare’s Corporate Director of Operations. Reed, a paramedic, has been involved in emergency medical services for almost 40 years. He joined LifeCare in 1999 as Director of Operations when Caplinger bought the company.
“We intentionally look for employees who are not only competent but genuinely compassionate and will give patients what they need,” Reed says. “Then we hone their customer service skills, as well as their technical skills, through continuing education.”
LifeCare employs 246 people at its headquarters and satellite locations in Stark, Summit, Cuyahoga, Medina and Hamilton counties. Its fleet includes 48 ambulances, two of which are specially-equipped bariatric units.
For example, when LifeCare purchased specially equipped bariatric ambulances to transport patients whose weight exceeds 650 pounds, they created a customer service approach to meet the special needs of these patients. This approach worked so well, a similar program was developed to address the specific needs of hospice patients, ventilator-dependent patients and patients with other special situations.
QA and QI programs
To continually assess quality assurance (QA) and quality improvement (QI), LifeCare has ongoing programs in place. An advanced computer-aided dispatch system simplifies generation of reports on each crew member’s performance, including technical competence, adherence to company medical protocols and operating procedures, and customer service skills. In addition, each patient transported is mailed a satisfaction survey to complete and return anonymously. The crew member’s number is included on each survey mailed, so LifeCare can easily identify who delivered the care.
LifeCare managers also meet monthly with the directors of case management at client facilities to assess their satisfaction. Together, they review the number of calls made, the company’s response time, and any concerns that might arise.
“We strive to ensure our crew members are on time, well-mannered and highly competent, and that their vehicles, as well as their uniforms, are clean,” says Caplinger. “All of our QA and QI results indicate that they are.”
Programs are also in place to hone LifeCare’s employees’ communication, problem-solving, multi-tasking, and team-building skills. Employees are also encouraged to think outside the box. LifeCare’s Managed Transportation Program is a good example of this.
One-stop transportation shop
While ambulance services are LifeCare’s niche, the company now schedules additional transportation services for its client hospitals and healthcare facilities through a network of approved providers. This has resulted in LifeCare becoming a veritable one-stop shop for transportation services.
“With our Managed Transportation Program, we can schedule through our dispatch center whatever transportation needs our contracted facilities request—taxi cab, courier service, shuttle service between a hospital’s clinical sites, even air transportation services — and bring an efficiency to their entire transportation program,” says Reed.
For example, to arrange for a patient’s cab transportation, a hospital employee needs to call just one number — LifeCare Communication Center’s — where dispatchers complete a voucher and fax it directly to the cab company. This not only saves the hospital time and money — up to $800 per month — but also simplifies the process for everyone involved.
And just like LifeCare’s employees are continually evaluated for QA and QI, so are the transportation companies in LifeCare’s network. “Quarterly meetings are conducted with providers and clients to discuss on-time percentages and any patient care issues or billing issues. We even help our transportation providers QI their calls,” Reed explains.
“It’s all about providing excellent patient care and customer service,” says Caplinger. “And going that extra mile.”
LifeCare Medical Services, Inc., is an active member in good standing with the Ohio Ambulance and Medical Transportation Association. All of LifeCare’s ambulances are staffed with Ohio-certified EMTs and paramedics, capable of providing both Basic Life Support and Advanced Life Support. For more information, call 888-328-5228 or visit LifeCare-EMS.com.