- Rideshare company Lyft is working to close medical transportation gaps and improve patient access to care by revamping some of its services to better serve senior patient populations, the company said in a recent announcement.
The ride hailing behemoth will be increasing its partnership with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Institute (BCBS Institute), a subsidiary of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), to allow Medicare Advantage (MA) plans offer Lyft as a medical transportation option.
This program expansion builds on a previous partnership with BCBS Institute initially forged in 2017. The Lyft/BCBS Institute partnership originally planned to provide rideshare assistance to the health plan’s commercial insurance members.
But new flexibilities in MA have sparked progress in the Lyft/BCBS Institute partnership. BCBS Institute will now help senior patients covered by MA plans gain reliable transportation to their medical appointments.
“Lyft has been an incredible partner as we’ve worked to leverage their platform to deliver innovative services that improve the health and satisfaction of our members, while reducing healthcare costs,” said Trent Haywood, MD, president, BCBS Institute. “We're eager to expand our already successful partnership with Lyft from our commercial plans to some of our BCBS MA plans this summer - providing even more members with improved access to services that will help improve their health and quality of life.”
Lyft will also be expanding non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) services to MA members for other health plans. Through its partnership with LogistiCare, an NEMT broker, Lyft will be available to Humana MA beneficiaries. Members can access rides to medical appointments, pharmacies, and fitness centers, Lyft said.
This aligns with Humana’s efforts to promote better patient health, according to Alan Wheatley, president of Humana’s Retail Segment.
“At Humana, we understand that health is about more than what happens in the doctor's office - many other social factors, like transportation, can have a direct impact on health and well-being,” Wheatley explained. “Our goal in working with LogistiCare and Lyft is to innovate in ways that translate directly into improved health and a better healthcare experience for the Medicare Advantage members we serve.”
In addition to expanding its presence in the MA market, Lyft will be making it easier for senior patients to interface with the technology. Through Lyft’s Concierge tool, which allows organizations’ NEMT managers book rides for patients, the tool can now send outbound calls to non-smartphones.
The new technology will recognize when a phone number is a landline and will generate an audio message to be sent via telephone call.
This will make it easier for seniors, nearly half of whom do not own a smartphone, use the Lyft and Concierge platforms.
This news comes following Lyft’s Economic Impact report, which revealed the mark the company has made on the healthcare industry.
Currently, 3.6 million patients face medical transportation barriers, Lyft reported. Between long travel distances, limited access to a vehicle, limited access to a driver’s license, or limited physical capacity to drive, patients are struggling to get to their medical appointments, often to the detriment of their own health.
Three-quarters of Lyft riders have said the ridesharing tool has made their medical appointments less of a hassle. Overall, one-third of users said they have used Lyft to get to a medical appointment.
Lyft and other rideshare options like it do have their limitations. For example, Lyft is best for non-emergency medical situations, such as going to a pre-scheduled follow-up appointment or primary care appointment.
Ridesharing is not useful for patients experiencing a serious medical emergency, such as a heart attack or life-threatening injury, Lyft warns.
Additionally, ridesharing services are limited in providing medical transportation to patients with unique medical needs. An Uber or Lyft cannot usually fill care access gaps for patients in wheelchairs or traveling with other bulky medical equipment, for example.
But it does hold promise in converting patients who do not usually visit their primary care or chronic care providers into more activated patients. When patients see a simpler opportunity to access their treatment, they are more likely to adhere to visit schedules.