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Improving Health Equity With Accessible Medical Transportation

We all understand the inconvenience and cost-anxiety of having to go to the dentist, doctor, or other medical appointments, especially during the work week. The doctor’s office could be on the other side of town or at minimum not close enough to squeeze in between your Zoom meetings.

Now imagine how difficult this process may be if you are responsible for making sure a loved one attends their medical appointments or the added support you might need if someone has a disability. This was the reality for Erica Plybeah, Founder and CEO of MedHaul. Plybeah’s grandmother was a Type-2 Diabetic double-leg amputee, living in rural Mississippi. Transportation options were scarce and Plybeah’s family car was not equipped to efficiently transport someone with a disability. 

(Plybeah presents her solutions during Solve Challenge Finals)

This personal experience inspired Plybeah to found MedHaul, a technology platform that connects non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) to vulnerable patient populations. 

“We see health organizations build new clinics but not even consider how people will get there. No one thinks about transportation and to add to the problem, transportation workers are drastically underpaid. When transportation workers are underpaid, they service the patient, but sometimes with less quality,” explains Plybeah. 

The goal of MedHaul is to provide safe, inclusive, and reliable healthcare transportation to all people. To date, MedHaul has completed over 10,000 rides and has increased the overall volume of patients attending their appointments on time from 40% to 92%. Most rides are requested on demand (70%) and the remaining amount of rides are scheduled in advance for appointments like chemotherapy and dialysis. 

Patients aren’t the only beneficiaries of MedHaul. “We give health organizations a streamlined transportation operation. We also bring additional revenue to transportation companies,” says Plybeah, adding, “We have over 85 companies in our network and they each have a fleet of vehicles from 2-400.” MedHaul’s first customer saved $2M their first year of service because they dispatched less emergency vehicles than in years prior. 

MedHaul is a selected solution addressing  the 2022 Equitable Health Systems Challenge. Plybeah is also an inaugural cohort member of the Black and Brown Innovators in the US Program

“I’m looking forward to helping the greater venture community understand issues the Black and Brown communities face. I’d love for other entrepreneurs coming behind me to learn from my failures and wins,” shares Plybeah. “One of the things our company needs is more time. In the venture community, people move fast and break things, but that's not how you build trust in communities where trust has been broken for centuries,” says Plybeah.

During Solve Challenge Finals, MedHaul was also chosen as a recipient to the Health Equity Catalyst Prize supported by Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Plybeah shares the impact this will have on her organizations, “By modernizing medical transportation, we can effectively expand health equity, accessibility and sustainability on a greater societal scale. And we can do all of this while improving health outcomes for all patients and building community among healthcare providers, caregivers and a trusted network of specialized transportation companies and drivers."

(Ava Skolnik, Associate Director, Health Equity Programs and Partnerships, Merck (left) poses with Plybeah (right), Health Equity Catalyst Prize recipient)

“We aim to serve everyone, even communities that are overlooked...I always said that I would build for the people who are forgotten about,” says Plybeah. 

MedHaul is among 40 Solver Teams tackling Global Challenges. If you seek to uplift the work these incredible innovators are doing, find out how to support them here.


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