Apps are now an everyday part of life for many people. They are designed to make easier to access applications on a mobile device. It was for these reasons that we developed mobile apps for direct care staff to use in eWebSchedule. But, can these apps also provide a better quality of life for individuals with developmental disabilities?

A study is underway in Columbus, Ohio where researchers are testing whether individuals with cognitive and developmental disabilities would benefit from a mobile app. This particular app is called Wayfinder, and features a detailed navigation system specially built for individuals with cognitive disabilities.

The mobile app is designed to make using public transit easier by allowing a caregiver or DSP to develop instructions based on the unique needs of the person who needs assistance. The goal is to have these individuals safely use public bus options. This would make it easier to independently travel to work and stores as well as create a degree of autonomy.

The app uses real images of the desired destination as well as audio prompts to notify people that they need to get off at a particular bus stop. The app also provides location updates for caregivers and notifies them when the person has successfully arrived at their destination.

The development and implementation of the app is part of a collaboration known as MAPCD or Mobility Assistance for People with Cognitive Disabilities. The group is comprised of members from Ohio State University, Smart Columbus and the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA).

The pilot program is focused on empowering people with cognitive and developmental disabilities to travel more independently on bus service that has fixed-routes. Some disabilities can make it a challenge for people to move around independently. Currently, to use public transit, individuals with disabilities must either qualify for special paratransit services in accordance with federal law. Otherwise, they must be able to safely use fixed-route bus services without the assistance of a caregiver or DSP.

MAPCD has organized a year-long trial run of the app which includes 25 individuals with cognitive disabilities as well as their direct support professionals. Once the trial run is over, the app will become available for anyone who needs assistance using public transit. This research is part of the overall work being done by the Smart Columbus initiative.

In June 2016, Columbus Ohio won the U.S. Department of Transportation $40 million Smart City Challenge. The city of Columbus competed against 77 other cities across the U.S. in order to become the first city to integrate innovative technologies into its transportation network such as smart sensors, connected vehicles and self-driving automobiles.

Travel can create unnecessary barriers for people with developmental disabilities. The Central Ohio Transit Authority has already worked to remove part of these obstacles by half-priced fares on fixed-route service for riders with a disability. However, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 population estimates survey, Ohio’s Franklin County, which includes the city of Columbus; has 142,723 residents with some form of disability.

In the entire state of Ohio, there are 246, 747 people with a disability diagnosis. Approximately 161, 122 individuals in this group have what the Census Bureau calls mental disorders. Out of this population, 31.4 percent have an intellectual while 6.6 percent have developmental disorders. Any technology that would grant them more freedom and opportunity is greatly appreciated.

Who We Are:

The staff at eWebSchedule and ABCS will watch how the Smart City investments are used. As a company that uses technology solutions to meet the various needs of healthcare professionals, we understand the importance of innovation. Technology can transform many tasks and create efficiencies that never existed before.

As a company, eWebSchedule provides services and tools that optimize the back office of various healthcare agencies.

EVV solution is easy for DSPs to use. The eWebSchedule software solution works in a variety of settings. The software solution turns the EVV compliance requirement into a valuable feature for agencies. It can be used as a stand-alone tool for EVV and scheduling (time collection) or integrated into a variety of other billing systems.

Contact Advanced Billing & Consulting Services (ABCS RCM) for more information at 614.890.9822 or the eWebSchedule department at 614.882.0726. As an Ohio-based company, they have been providing account management services to the Medicaid waiver provider community since 1997.

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