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Ridesharing Deal to Drive Timely Patient Healthcare Access

Lyft has partnered with American Medical Response to drive cost-effective and simple healthcare access through ridesharing services.

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Source: Thinkstock

- Lyft and American Medical Response (AMR) have partnered to provide easier transportation and healthcare access for patients receiving outpatient treatment.

The partnership will support AMR’s One Call program, which allows patients to call anything from non-emergency transportation to ambulances to help patients get to their treatment. Providers can use One Call to arrange transportation for their patients using phone calls or an online portal.

AMR’s partnership with Lyft will allow providers specifically to arrange non-emergency transportation for patients.

“Our health plan and health system partners rely upon AMR and our Access2Care subsidiary to effectively manage the non-emergency transportation needs of their members,” said AMR CEO of Managed Transportation and Integrated Solutions Sven Johnson.

“This partnership with Lyft provides an additional transport option for patients who require transportation, but do not need the services of an ambulance or other higher level of care.”

Ideally, supporting transportation to outpatient care will cut down on the costs and other effects of patients missing their outpatient appointments due to limited transportation. Currently, healthcare organizations struggle to provide transportation and taxi services for their patients, increasing patient costs and in some cases delaying patient healthcare access.

When hospitals and health systems do arrange taxi services for patients, the organizations see high transportation costs. The paper taxi vouchers providers offer patients are difficult to manage and patients easily lose them, leaving some patients still without care access.

By supporting AMR, Lyft is cutting down on those issues. The ridesharing service offers lower prices than taxis, and offering its services via an online portal makes it easier for providers to arrange a ride for patients.

Recent research shows that ridesharing apps such as Lyft or Uber can play a big role in improving healthcare access for patients. Currently, the US government pays $2.7 million in transportation services for its patients. According to one study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, ridesharing services can drive that cost down.

The study discussed the partnership between Lyft and patient advocacy group CareMore, and showed that Lyft cut down on per-patient ride costs by 30 percent. Currently, the average Lyft ride costs patients in that program between $21.32 and $31.54.

Simpler transportation access also improved patient satisfaction, the researchers reported. CareMore saw patient satisfaction increase by 80 percent as a result of the Lyft partnership.

The patient satisfaction increase likely came from Lyft’s ease-of-use. Patients are familiar and comfortable with Lyft’s platform, making it easily accessible.

Additionally, Lyft has cut down on transportation wait times. After the partnership, wait times lowered to about 9 minutes per patient ride.

Individual hospitals and health systems are also jumping onto the ridesharing bandwagon. Washington DC-based MedStar Health partnered with Uber last year to help MedStar patients access care. Patients can access Uber services by clicking a button on MedStar’s website.

In a past interview on the subject, MedStar’s Vice President and Chief Digital Officer Michael Ruiz said offering easier healthcare access is an important part of the organization’s patient engagement strategy.

“When we think about patient access, it’s fundamentally about being able to provide patients the access to healthcare when they need it, where they need it, how they need it,” Ruiz said. “It’s about making it easy to use, as easy as being able to walk into Starbucks and do a transaction.”

Ridesharing services in healthcare have only recently caught on. As more healthcare providers begin to adopt these services into their patient engagement strategies, it will become clearer how ridesharing can impact both healthcare costs and patient treatment access.