Patient access to care gets boost with hospital digital transportation pilot

An Uber application is shown as cars drive by in Washington, DC

A new pilot program will allow hospital transportation coordinators to schedule and manage on-demand rides for patients who need non-emergency medical care.

The program, a partnership with Uber's ride-hailing service and Circulation's digital transportation platform, will first be tested at Boston Children’s Hospital, Pennsylvania’s Mercy Health System and Wilmington, Delaware’s Nemours Children’s Health System.

The platform will allow coordinators to update patient information files with transportation scheduling information, ensure physicians, nurses and caregivers are notified when patients arrive for appointments, and receive alerts on a centralized multi-patient dashboard--all in real-time, the company announced.

This is not the first hospital partnership with ride-hailing services. Uber recently partnered with MedStar Health to help transport patients to MedStar facilities in the District of Columbia, northern Virginia and Maryland. Its main competitor, Lyft, has partnered with New York City’s National Medtrans Network to offer senior citizens non-emergency transportation.

Demand is on the rise for non-emergency medical transportation; lack of access to reliable means of transportation leads about 3.6 million patients to miss medical appointments annually, while inappropriate non-emergency medical transportation funding costs Medicaid about $1 billion annually. 

The programs represent a broader shift in value-based care that involves a population health strategy targeting socioeconomic disadvantages, which are believed to account for up to 60 percent of healthcare spending; this year Kaiser Permanente launched a pilot addressing patient barriers to care including, among others, lack of reliable transportation, FierceHealthcare previously reported.