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A newly-launched program from Lyft is helping patients and hospitals to avoid missed medical appointments.
Through Lyft Pass for Healthcare, eligible patients, health plan members and Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries can use the Lyft app to request rides to their medical appointments without cost.
The program allows the sponsoring healthcare or social services organization to cover the cost of the rides. Sponsors are given control over the service by setting a total budget, a maximum cost per ride, the pickup and drop-off locations, and when the pass can be used.
Sponsoring organizations covering the ride issue Lyft passes to their riders for use when they request a ride. Lyft then provides the organizations with reports on usage and spending.
WHY THIS MATTERS
More and more hospitals are looking to rideshare companies such as Lyft and Uber to help with transportation.
For many patients, getting to medical appointments can be a challenge. The typical process to get to an appointment is to call a transportation call center up to 72 hours in advance to have a ride requested.
Transportation is a social determinant of health. About four million medical appointments are missed or delayed each year because patients are unable to get there.
THE LARGER TREND
In 2019, Uber Health announced a partnership with American Logistics to help improve patient access to transportation and improve transparency and reliability surrounding transportation.
According to Francisco Bram, head of product marketing at Uber for Business, accessible transportation impacts vulnerable communities like the elderly, low-income and the chronically ill.
The need for transportation extends to clinic workers as well. In 2020, nonprofit healthcare network Sutter Health collaborated with Lyft to help home health providers travel to and from patient homes.
Sutter and Lyft have worked together in the past on pilot transportation programs and found that the programs helped reduce wait times, lower cost and positively impact social determinants of a patient's health.
While there is growing interest in improving access to transportation, more may be needed to help reduce the rate of missed appointments.
A 2018 study from Penn Medicine researchers published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that offering Medicaid patients with a free Lyft ride did not reduce the rate of missed appointments. According to the study, the rate of missed appointments for those offered a free Lyft ride and those not offered a ride was about the same – 36.5% and 36.7%, respectively.
ON THE RECORD
"We're inserting a world-class technology many are already familiar with into patients' care journey," said Megan Callahan, vice president of Lyft Healthcare. "By leveraging our superpower in consumer tech, we've automated an important piece of health access that allows patients to be self-sufficient and in control, while allowing our partners to focus on the services they provide, rather than on administrative processes."