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Benefits of Mobile Healthcare

Traditionally, RVs have been the only model for mobile healthcare with the exception of in-home


Mobile healthcare has been documented to improve a community’s healthcare, decrease

chronic illness, decrease emergency room use, and increase compliance. The cost of owning

and running an RV mobile medical clinic is a barrier to expanding this model of healthcare.

According to data gathered by Julieta Santana and published “Going Out to the

Community… Mobile Clinics Bring Health Care to Families of Migrant Farmworkers,” the cost of

the RV mobile clinic was $500,000 the first year and $250,000 each year after. Laboit Specialty

sells RV mobile clinics ranging from $175,000-$350,000. The Family Van out of Boston is reported to

cost about $300,000 initially and $375,000 annually to operate.

Venkat Srinivasan writes in “Docs on Wheels, Mobile clinics are a great way to deliver health

care.” In 2012, Massachusetts’ Health and Human Services made a five-year plan to decrease

chronic diseases. They requested more mobile health clinics to improve connections the clinics

have in the community. Approximately 1,500 to 2,000 of America’s clinics are on wheels

including a mobile clinic in Redwood City, California, seeing 3,400 patients in 2014. Mobile

clinics account for five to six million patient visits a year, though less than one percent of all patient


Current mobile health clinics screen for chronic illnesses like depression, hypertension, and

vision problems. Blood samples are currently collected, and diet and contraception advice are


“Mobilizing primary and preventive care is a simple and obvious idea. It is not a radical

concept. It’s already done across the country, just not done enough. These methods have

been shown to be efficient, both qualitatively and in dollars saved.” Venkat Srinivasan

The Family Van, a RV mobile clinic operating out of Boston, has operated for 23 years and

provided us some great data. Data published in 2013 showed 5,900 patients, studied over two

years, achieving significant reductions in their blood pressure and about 45 percent reduction in

the risk of a stroke. Srinivasan states, “for these patients, a trip to their neighborhood mobile

clinic triggered potentially lifesaving behavioral changes.”

Jennifer Bennet, CEO of The Family Van, says “we go to where they work, where they live, where

they pray. . . we’re there on the front line of high-risk communities.”

Srinivasan discusses barriers of trust and sustainability due to cost, stating “many are run with

the help of donations and grants.”

NCBI published “calculating the return on investment of mobile healthcare.” An algorithm

was developed, based off data provided by The Family Van in 2008, to quantify health

outcomes. “We developed and tested an algorithm to calculate the return on investment of a

typical broad-service mobile health clinic: the relative value of mobile health clinic services =

annual projected emergency department costs avoided + value of potential life years saved

from the services provided. Return on investment ratio = the relative value of the mobile health

clinic services/annual cost to run the mobile health clinic.” The annual cost savings from

preventing emergency room visits was $3,125,668.

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