TIPS & TRICKS TO START A MOBILE MEDICAL OR MOBILE DENTAL CLINIC
The outline below is partially from Mobile Health Map, a collaborative network and research community dedicated to studying the impact of the mobile health sector as a whole.
Mobile Health Map provides an online portal complete with analysis tools, research, best practice resources, and opportunities to connect with peers across the country to advocate broadly in support of mobile health services.
With resources and research pooled from a collective of over 700 mobile health clinics across the United States, Mobile Health Map can help you build a strong program.
Target a community to serve
Identify low-income and minority populations who have a disproportionate burden of ill health and would benefit the most from the care provided to them by a mobile clinic. Use the free tools provided by the Mobile Health Map to evaluate the potential impact your program would have on your community!
Hire professional and culturally competent staff
Clients of mobile clinics may have a diverse background of social circumstances and cultural beliefs. Staff members who follow a “knowledgeable neighbor” model of friendly and non-judgmental care will engender an environment of trust.
Partner with community organizations
Communication with brick & mortar community health clinics, rehabilitation facilities, social service agencies, and food pantries allow referrals for clients who need assistance beyond the resources of the mobile clinic and help you design the operating model of your program.
Identify and validate the need
Get input from potential patients and community members about their needs and the ideal delivery model for meeting them.
Mobile clinics around the country offer a variety of service types, including prevention/screening, primary care, mammography, dental, specialty medical care, homelessness, etc. You cannot fix every problem and a vehicle is not a "cure-all." The services of your mobile clinic should target the highest needs of the community it will serve.
If you are not an established organization with stable funding, you may find yourself raising money from both public and private donors to purchase and customize a mobile clinic.
Mission Mobile Medical has staff in place to assist you with fundraising and financing.
Find and choose your mobile medical clinic vehicle
With your mission, plan, and budget in hand, you will evaluate service providers or manufacturers, and choose a new or used mobile clinic.
Some models advocate for the mobile clinic to reflect the “knowledgeable neighbor” model by creating a welcoming, unintimidating environment that looks more like a living room than a doctor’s office, but all will have to present professionally to represent your organization and stakeholders well, and function reliably for many years.
Create your operating plans
Schedules and patient care may dominate your thinking at this stage, but do not forget equipment protocol, supplies, documentation, privacy, emergency care, contingency plans, and even how and when vehicle maintenance fits into the picture.
Identify convenient and low-cost locations to park the van
Work with local residents to identify convenient, easily accessible locations where the van should park within each community. Schools, doctor's offices, public libraries, you should be able to find low-cost or no-cost locations without site-fees.
Pursue grassroots marketing
Visit and distribute flyers to community partners and other organizations such as churches, schools, and childcare programs. Have a digital presence, website and social media, plus online scheduling, up-to-date event days, and the hours you'll be on location.
Add services based on local needs
Meet periodically to discuss any needs you may have observed in the community and the merits and feasibility of adding new services to address them.
Evaluate your impact
Mobile Health Map offers tools that are FREE, ANONYMOUS, and EASY to use and which help you demonstrate the impact your mobile clinic has on the community:
Bottom Line Impact: Calculate the return on investment of your Mobile Health Clinic to show the dollars that are saved per dollar invested.
Quality Check-Up Tool: identify the strengths of your program as well as potential areas improvement based on the 9 aims for public health quality defined by the US department of health.
Even if you do not yet have a fully functional mobile health clinic, you can input potential data to estimate the impact your mobile clinic would have on the community as a beta test!
Additional resources to guide your program startup:
View a profile of The Family Van completed by the Agency for Health Research and Quality
View the FAQs posted on the Mobile Health Map website.