Executive Sessions at #ITSDC2019: Barrier Free Transportation

Tim Woods, the executive director of the Autonomous Vehicles Alliance (AVA), is passionate about autonomous vehicles. “With our most recent research, we focused on use cases for L4/L5 AVs,” Tim said when I caught up with him during a five-minute break in the recent Mobility on Demand Alliance launch event at Seattle’s City Hall.

Tim’s 2019 ITS Annual Meeting Executive Session focuses on a topic unique to a typical transportation conference: healthcare and aging.

Health care systems are trying to figure out mobility solutions now. Within the next 10 years, hospitals and health care providers know their business will move to an outpatient model, and will become dependent on a singular concept: compliance.  

Tim Woods

Tim Woods

“Every single party we talked to in this discussion values one concept: barrier-free vehicles. We must get patients to comply… and mobility will enable a huge chunk of that compliance. If I’m a hospital and I can make sure a patient complies with care instructions like follow-up appointments, physical examinations, tests, medication, and other types of care, that means the patient won’t be readmitted to our facility, and we won’t get penalized by the insurance companies.

This type of mobility opportunity is also about efficiency. If a physician’s assistant is put into a vehicle to assist with medical needs during transport, in order to provide the best care, that PA can’t also function as the driver.

 Additionally, Tim touched briefly on the US’s aging population, and how AVs may be able to assist with “aging in place.” If a barrier to maintaining physical and mental health in an aging population is transportation, how can AVs assist? “If by a certain age, people are no longer driving, we may need to figure out a different, reliable method of transport to medical appointments, visiting family and providing socialization opportunities, etc.”  

OEM’s have a current business model that develops specific cars for specific demographics. “When you talk to anyone in health care, their descriptions of the vehicles they require are vehicles that don’t exist yet,” Tim says. “This opportunity is potentially enormous. Pardon the pun, but these kinds of needs will drive the rethinking of how we design and produce vehicles. This is about driving efficiency of the mobility model as whole, for people who need it most.”

Attend the “AVs and Healthcare” session on Wednesday, June 5th at 12:30 PM.


Lindsay Shelton-Gross, is the Vice President of Membership & Marketing with ITS America. Find her online at @lsheltongross 

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