Pilot Flying J's Prescription for Improving Truck Drivers' Health
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Pilot Flying J and UrgentCareTravel sought to answer a vital question for truck drivers: Where can I conveniently receive medical services when I’m on the road?
Through a partnership that has been about four years in the making, Pilot Flying J and UrgentCareTravel have launched a medical care service to serve truck drivers. As of today, there are six clinics up and running at Pilot Flying J locations, with another eight slated to open up by this summer.
The goal is to have 25 clinics at Pilot Flying J locations in operation by this time next year, and 50 clinics open by 2021.
- Baytown, Texas (I-10, Exit 789)
- Cartersville, Georgia (I-75, Exit 296)
- Dallas, Texas (I-20, Exit 472)
- Fontana, California (I-10, Exit 64, at South Sierra Plaza)
- Knoxville, Tennessee (I-40, Exit 398)
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (I-40, Exit 140)
- Ruther Glen, Virginia (I-95, Exit 104)
“The drivers are a very underserved population. When they’re driving their big rigs, there’s no place to park. Imagine a walk-in clinic at Pilot Flying J with a hundred truck parking spots,” said Mitch Strobin, vice president of service management for UrgentCareTravel. "You really solve a key issue facing the drivers."
The life of an average truck driver involves hours of being sedentary and can lead to serious health issues that require more frequent medical care, he noted.
“We see about 50 percent of the drivers on the road today have a serious preexisting condition — hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol — that limits the license they need to drive a truck,” said Strobin. “By definition, that impacts their revenue, their ability to earn income if it’s not treated.”
Anytime that a driver is not on the road, he or she is losing money. If a driver needs to seek medical attention while on the job, it could translate to hours of lost income. By providing medical services at truck stops, it not only saves the truckers money, but also the trucking industry at large.
"Having convenient clinics so that you’re not spending six hours off-site and getting taxis and all that, and helping companies address their driver turnover because health concerns are driving more and more drivers out of the industry, we can help with retention," said Strobin. "And healthier drivers are less likely to get into accidents. If you total all of the dollar figures up, we’re saving about a billion dollars a year for the trucking industry by having healthier drivers and convenient clinics."
- Driver/Trucking Services: DOT Physicals, Drug/Alcohol Screening Services
- Personalized Care Plans: Hypertension, Diabetes, High Cholesterol, Obesity
- Telemedicine: 24/7 Access to Providers, Basic Medical Services
- Work-Related Injury Services: Muscle Pain/Strain, Laceration Repair, Wound Care
- Primary Care Services: Physicals, Infection (sinus, ear), Sickness/Illness
- In-Clinic Lab Services: Flu/Tetanus Shoots, HbA1c, Lipid Profile
*The clinics also offer corporate accounts for DOT Physicals and more.
At the UrgentCareTravel clinics, drivers can make primary care visits and receive services like flu and tetanus shots. The clinics also provide a place for drivers to get their Department of Transportation (DOT) physicals, which are required for every driver on the road today.
Additionally, personalized care plans are available at the clinics and are specifically designed for drivers who are managing common chronic diseases like hypertension.
Most drivers, according to Strobin, are not offered benefits by their companies and are therefore on their own in finding a health plan. UrgentCareTravel offers a Health Network program that has neither age nor pre-existing condition restrictions. While it’s not an insurance plan, it does enable drivers to take advantage of a variety of services for a flat fee, meaning there’s no co-pay or deductible to worry about. For those who don’t join the Health Network, services can be paid à-la-carte.
There are no on-site pharmacies at the clinics due to varying regulations across state lines, but UrgentCareTravel will call in a prescription to a pharmacy conveniently located on the driver's route.
This is not the first time Pilot Flying J has attempted to provide medical services for the drivers that pass through its truck stops, situated all across the country.
“We tried walk-in roadside medical, etc., several times over the last 10 years because we felt there was a need there to take care of the drivers, and there wasn’t anything out there really,” said Scott Klepper, senior manager of facility revenue for Pilot Flying J. “Even for a DOT physical or a drug test or screen that the company wanted done, all of those were being done off-site.
“It’s not convenient for the driver. It’s not convenient for the company,” Klepper added. “By having these UrgentCare facilities, it’s been the only walk-in clinic provider that’s been able to make this happen and continue the growth of it.”
So far, Klepper says, Pilot Flying J has received positive feedback from drivers.
"Everything [up to] 'You saved my life.' In a couple of cases, UrgentCareTravel was able to stabilize a driver that had a heart attack on our lot until EMS personnel could arrive to take that person to a hospital," he recalled.
UrgentCareTravel has also launched a lifestyle change training program called "Eat. Stretch. Move." The campaign aims to help drivers lead healthier lives on the road and works in tandem with Pilot Flying J's PJ Fresh food offering, a concept that Pilot Flying J has been fine-tuning for the last couple of years. PJ Fresh offers drivers fresh fruit and other healthy food options.
“Drivers are the lifeblood of this industry. Without drivers, there would be no trucks moving on the interstate and, without that, we wouldn’t be in business. So, we want to do everything we can to help drivers keep driving and take care of themselves and take care of their families. That’s what this partnership [with UrgentCareTravel] is really all about,” Klepper stated.
Like Klepper, Strobin is passionate about what UrgentCareTravel can mean for the overall well-being of truck drivers and their families, and believes the program that has grown out of the Pilot Flying J and UrgentCareTravel partnership could be a game-changer for the trucking industry.
"We want drivers to not just wait until they’re sick, but [rather] to come in before they’re sick. The analogy we use is: Think about a driver and his truck. Why do you do preventive maintenance on your truck? Checking the oil, engine fluid, the tires, all that? Why do you do that? Because you want to prevent a major breakdown," said Strobin. "Think of your body as your truck. Do the same preventive maintenance on your body that you do for your truck to prevent a major breakdown. The idea of Health Network is to kind of remove a barrier, and [encourage drivers] to just come in and get yourself taken care of."
- Carlisle, Pennsylvania (I-81, Exit 52)
- Hubbard, Ohio (I-80, Exit 234)
- Joplin, Missouri (I-49, Exit 39A)
- Laredo, Texas (I-35, Exit 12 or 13)
- Phoenix, Arizona (I-10, Exit 137)
- Spiceland, Indiana (I-70, Exit 123)
- Toledo, Ohio (I-280, Exit 1B)
- West Memphis, Arkansas (I-55, Exit 4 or I-40, Exit 280)