Chanel Hernandez has worked his way to the top of his industry. He helped build one of the largest and most successful non-emergency medical transportation companies in the United States and just started his own business.
The dynamic immigrant from the Dominican Republic is the type of person everyone listens to and learns from.
Five years ago, Hernandez, then vice president of A&S Transportation Services in Brooklyn, was telling a neighborhood friend about the billing problems NEMT companies faced. Key people, he explained, were spending too much time putting out fires and trying to get paid for the rides they provided to Medicaid and other patients going to health care appointments.
From that conversation, Sufian Chowdhury was inspired to co-found Kinetik, a health technology company that has revolutionized the entire NEMT industry, creating much-needed billing efficiency and streamlining day-to-day operations for brokers, managed care organizations and local transportation providers such as A&S.
Hernandez actually became Kinetik’s first customer and has seen Chowdhury’s idea transform not just his business, but the NEMT industry.
“Kinetik changed everything for us,” Hernandez says. “We were able to bill all these different insurance companies and hear back from them on one NEMT RCM (revenue cycle management) platform. It really streamlined a lot of what we did.
“We knew how much and when we were going to get paid. And we got paid much faster. It took a lot of pressure off me and the other partners so we could focus on our vision.”
That vision — to get patients to their health care appointments reliably, comfortably, and safely — involves eliminating the long waits, late or missed pickups, and other issues that have plagued the industry for decades. It’s a goal Hernandez never forgets.
“We are providing a service that literally impacts people’s lives,” he says. “Without that transportation, that patient would not make it to their medical appointment, impacting their health and well being and that’s why I continue to be a part of NEMT.”
Kinetik’s centralized system automates NEMT billing — all on one platform and for a fraction of the cost to manually process claims. Transportation providers enjoy easy claims management and real-time status updates. And the medical billing technology includes direct connections to more than 3,100 payors, meaning faster processing and claims payment, key for providers — many of which are small businesses. Kinetik also reduces fraud, waste and abuse.
Hernandez sees the difference every day, which is why when he launched Aki Mobility Inc. recently after 11 years with A&S, there was no doubt how day-to-day operations would be managed at his new company. “We are all-in with Kinetik!”
It is no wonder. Gone are the headaches that existed just a few years ago. Gone are the complex, confusing billing processes. Gone are the piles of rejected claims and delayed payments that can keep vehicles off the road.
“Some insurers needed spreadsheets, others used the CMS1500 form for claims. We were using five different platforms,” Hernandez recalls. “And when a claim was rejected, we didn’t know how to solve the problem. Eventually, claims would pile up and we would be struggling to figure out how to get paid so we could pay our drivers and employees on time. We were juggling all of this when we should’ve been focusing on our business.”
Once Kinetik was in place, Hernandez says, the five-member billing department became obsolete. Those employees moved to customer care positions, while Hernandez needed only a few minutes each day to monitor the dashboard for problems, which had been greatly minimized.
“Not worrying about billing and getting paid allowed us to focus on servicing customers the best way possible,” Hernandez says. “Drivers had better relationships with customers and felt better about working there. And if your drivers and customers are happy, your customer service reps are happy. Your team is happy.”
The time and money saved helped A&S grow to about 200 drivers who completed about 2,000 trips a day pre-pandemic, Hernandez says. In addition, Kinetik’s integration with different dispatch software allows providers to efficiently schedule rides, track drivers and monitor on-time performance.
Kinetik quickly has become the preferred billing technology of the nation’s largest transportation providers (TPs) and transportation network companies (TNCs), many of them established by immigrants who started in the industry as drivers, Hernandez says.
“We are a big part of the industry — I say ‘we’ because I’m Dominican,” Hernandez says. “And what Kinetik has done here in New York is make everyone’s lives easier. TPs don’t have to worry about medical billing and getting paid quickly.”
Partnering with Kinetik changed not just the NEMT billing experience at A&S, but the overall business, he adds.
“Kinetik was an absolute blessing,” he says. “Once Kinetik came along, we realized ‘Wow, this is taking a big load off our shoulders and now we can focus on what really matters.’”