Simply getting to a medical appointment is the main barrier to healthcare for about 3.6 million Americans. For this reason, hospitals are partnering with taxi services and ridesharing apps to help get patients to routine doctor’s appointments on time.
Already, Boston Children’s Hospital, Mercy Health System in Pennsylvania and Nemours Children’s Health System in Delaware are piloting Uber for their patients through non-emergency medical transport company Circulation.
“A year ago, there were two options for non-emergency transportation: taxi vouchers or brokers,” Circulation co-founder and CEO Robin Heffernan tells HealthTech, noting that brokers can take hours to line up rides while taxis are often unreliable. Rideshare services, however, are able to match riders with drivers who can deliver services in a matter of minutes.
“We are trying to reduce no-show rates. We help with the discharge process,” he says.
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Now, insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield is getting in on reducing no-shows and tardy patients through a new ridesharing program with Lyft.
“Transportation is a really important piece to have to solve problems of healthcare access, and with over 100 million members, Blue Cross Blue Shield can have a big impact,” Gyre Renwick, Lyft’s head of healthcare partnerships, told MobiHealthNews. “An important piece is patients do not need to do anything else to get the benefit of the service. Many people we are transporting today for medical appointments do not have a smartphone or the technical capabilities, so our goal is to remove the barrier to individual consumers even having to call a ride.”
Over the next few months, at no cost to patients, BCBS will begin incorporating Lyft services into a new rideshare service delivery model.
“Many Americans live in areas where medical care is beyond the reach of walking, biking or public transportation. As a result, they struggle to access critical health care services, even when they have health insurance,” said Trent Haywood, BCBSA chief medical officer and president of the BCBS Institute, in a press release. “We are committed to addressing issues like transportation that are inextricably linked to health outcomes, yet can’t be tackled through health care resources alone.”
With 80 percent of health outcomes driven by social factors, like lifestyle and environment, this partnership and others are part of the payer’s mission to create collaborations that can combine the company’s knowledge of its 106 million members with local data on issues like transportation, nutrition and environment. Through these partnerships, the company hopes to address many of these issues by focusing on the “community factors that have the most dramatic impact on individual health.”
“Lyft has been working closely with health care providers to get more people to the doctor when they need it, and a partnership this size with BCBS allows us to reach all 50 states,” said John Zimmer, co-founder and president of Lyft, in the statement. “This type of cross-industry partnership is a critical way to help make our communities stronger and families healthier.”