The Intersection of Transportation and Healthcare

Having access to transportation services can help people reach medical clinics and appointments. Without it, they may miss important healthcare visits that can result in missed or delayed clinical interventions, chronic disease exacerbations and unmet health care needs, all of which can lead to poorer outcomes.

Healthcare and transportation intersect in a myriad of ways. Patients depend on transport for routine and emergency healthcare, yet the lack of transportation is a significant barrier to healthcare, especially for those living in lower income communities and individuals with disabilities. The cost of maintaining and operating individual vehicles — including insurance, fuel and parking fees — is often prohibitive for those with limited financial resources. And, while driving a vehicle can provide health benefits from regular physical activity, it also exposes drivers and passengers to traffic crashes and air pollution, which can negatively impact a person’s health.

The intersection of transportation and healthcare is complex, but solutions exist. These can include delivering healthcare center-specific transportation services to bring transportation-disadvantaged patients from home to their physicians, incorporating healthcare delivery into public transit planning and operations (such as dedicating bus routes), or providing reimbursements or vouchers for ride-hailing or taxi service.

Reliable public transportation options can reduce barriers to healthcare and improve overall well-being by reducing the need for car ownership and its related expenses, which can leave households with more money to invest in other life necessities like healthy food, housing, education and employment. In a 2022 TRB webinar recording, presenters discussed ways transportation agencies can ensure quality-of-life considerations – such as access to healthcare and social connections – are fully incorporated into community and project planning. transportation and healthcare

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