Mobile medical units have proven to be a money-saving, health-boosting boon to patients across the U.S., and in other countries as well. In fact, research from UnitedHealth Group has shown that in terms of adding years to the lives of patients seen away from a traditional practice site, as well as cutting the cost of unnecessary emergency room visits, mobile medical unit access can provide an astounding 15-to-1 return on investment.

Many doctors are eager to expand care to more patients by directly traveling into their communities, but aren't really clear on how to properly utilize a mobile medical unit for maximum positive impact.

Here's everything you need to know about the benefits of putting your practice on the road, so you can truly improve the lives of those you meet and treat.

Mobile units can address the needs of virtually any patient.

It's easy to offer everything from primary care to prevention/screening services to on-the-spot testing to dental care, since a mobile van can specifically be customized from an equipment/laboratory standpoint. Utilizing the space you have, you can provide the targeted services that will be most appropriate for your community’s population.

Mobile units save lives in real time.

A study from the American Academy of Neurology found that patients who were diagnosed with stroke symptoms in a mobile unit with CT scan and telemedicine capabilities were more quickly and effectively treated once they were transported to a hospital than those brought in by a regular ambulance.

These patients were reached, evaluated and initially treated en route so quickly that they were able to receive life-saving clot-buster drugs within just 56 minutes, as opposed to the 94-minute treatment time other patients experienced.

Mobile units easily reach underserved patients.

A Brown University study found that mobile medical personnel who went door-to-door in Philadelphia neighborhoods were able to diagnose residents at risk for hepatitis C immediately, using rapid tests and immediate blood draw follow-ups.

These patients, who would otherwise not have seen a doctor at all, were then quickly given treatment information and linked with specialists to see as soon as possible.

Mobile units are economical.

Mobile unit costs can be lowered by partnering with community health clinics, local rehab facilities and social service organizations. Advertising can be very effective on a grass roots level, too, with inexpensive flyers and free word-of-mouth often the best ways to get the word out that you're there and ready to see patients.

Mobile units help you foster strong relationships.

When your patients see that you, as a physician, have made the effort to come into their community to offer them accessible and compassionate care, their trust in you will grow.

This will help create better communication between you and your patients, which in turn will improve their willingness to comply with the advice and treatment you recommend.