Each year, millions of Americans miss or delay preventive medical care due to their inability to access transportation services. That is where companies like Liberty Mobility Now step in.

Liberty is a transportation technology company designed to provide mobility as a service for rural and small urban areas. They coordinate existing transportation options in the region and add rural ride-share opportunities where there is unmet demand.

“Our mission is simple,” says Liberty President and CEO Valerie Lefler,
“We connect communities.”

WELCOME TO SMALL TOWN AMERICA

Imagine a town in rural America that has a population of just over 5,000 people. The families who live here are hardworking: mostly farmers, ranchers, and oilfield workers. They do not like to take handouts and they are frugal with their resources. Despite their hard work and frugality, resources are spread pretty thin.

A Physician Assistant and a few nurses operate a single family practice clinic in town. It’s open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. This diligent team can treat ailments such as the common cold or minor fractures. However, they cannot handle the “big stuff” like serious emergencies, specialist needs, and chronic conditions.

This small town sits in an 896-square-mile county with only two ambulances for the entire county. The five crewmembers that drive them do so on a volunteer basis. Emergencies are triaged by severity, and the drivers are pulled away from their full-time jobs when a trip is needed.

Mrs. Smith, aged 67, lives in this town. She is a widow and diabetic. She stopped being able to drive a few years ago. She is retired and lives on Social Security, which does not quite make ends meet. Meals on Wheels drops off a bag of food for her once a week. Her only son has a full time job on an oilrig 170 miles away, almost a three-hour drive. When Mrs. Smith needs to go to her annual diabetic retinopathy visit, her options are slim. Her son must take three days off from work to get home, take her to and from the hospital where her specialist works, and travel back to the rig.

Most of the time, patients like Mrs. Smith simply put off the care that they need. When this happens, their condition often deteriorates over time until it reaches a critical level. In Mrs. Smith’s case, that could mean eye pain, hemorrhage, and even blood vessel damage to the point of total blindness.

MOBILE TECH TO THE RESCUE

Liberty Mobility Now hopes to help people like Mrs. Smith. The ambitious tech start-up provides advanced smart phone technology designed to work in rural areas for individuals to request trips as well a call center for those who want to visit with a live person to set up an account or book a trip. As with Uber and other ride sharing services, Liberty drivers are independent contractors who get paid per mile by accepting trips requests.

Drivers earn between $0.76 – $0.80 per mile in most states, and all payment is handled electronically so no cash is changing hands.

We asked President and CEO Valerie Lefler to tell us more about her company:

How did you get started in this business? What made you choose this?

We got started after working with rural public transit providers in Nebraska and recognized a major gap for night and weekend transportation in counties that had public transportation and that there were many counties that did not have any transportation options. I chose this because we saw the need and hear story upon story of pain, suffering, institutionalization, etc. from folks who just simply needed a ride.

What is unique about your business that sets you apart from a company like Uber?

A couple different things separate us from Uber. First, we offer a call center for those who do not have access to smart phones or cell service. Second, our drivers are background checked and finger printed, trained a full 8 hours, and drug tested. Our drivers meet the same regulations as taxi drivers in most states. This allows us to meet all the regulations for federal funds.

How do you market or advertise your business?

We use the standard email, social media, radio, but we also focus our marketing locally with the schools, community colleges, churches, etc. We aim to put every dollar back into the local economy as much as possible and see the most benefit when working with schools which are the heart and soul of the community.

Do you have any plans to expand your business into other cities/regions?

Absolutely, we have several locations planned nationwide. There is western Nebraska up first, then we plan to expand into Corpus Christi, Texas and the coastal bend region. There are five additional locations we’re considering and discussing for 2017 as well. For folks who are interested, they can subscribe to our email list at thisisliberty.com. Agencies and organization who are interested in working with us to launch in a community near them can email valerie@libertymobilitynow.com

Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?

We are looking for angel investors. We need to grow our business so quickly to meet all the demand in the rural communities and we cannot do that without angel investment. If anyone is interested in investing in this wonderful company doing great work, my email is valerie@libertymobilitynow.com.


Liberty is planning deployment in seven states by the end of 2017. By 2020, Liberty plans to be available nationwide in the US and operating in several countries around the world.

 

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Traci Butler Carroll
Traci Carroll is Project Manager for the Frontiers in Technology telemedicine program at the F. Marie Hall Institute for Rural and Community Health.

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