Lyft Pass for Healthcare lets patients book their own rides to the doctor

Lyft's service allows healthcare organizations to budget and monitor ride-share costs to appointments, vaccinations and other preapproved destinations. (Lyft)

Ride-sharing company Lyft is letting patients schedule nonemergency medical transport (NEMT) on health organization's dime with the launch of Lyft Pass for Healthcare.

The latest healthcare offering falls in line with the initial Lyft Pass service launched in July 2020, which allows business organizations to monitor and cover the cost of employees’ transportation. Now, the company is extending those capabilities to healthcare organizations—commercial health plans as well as Medicare or Medicaid—and their members.

Through the app, users who need a ride to their medical appointments, vaccinations, prescription pickups or other destinations request a ride. This process is similar to ordering a pickup as a consumer, except that patients will need to select an in-app branded Lyft Pass provided via phone number, access code or a direct link.

Healthcare organizations sponsoring the pass, meanwhile, are able to customize the program’s budgets, approved locations and scheduling windows. The organizations are able to monitor usage and manage spend while allowing members to be more autonomous with their NEMT scheduling.

"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," Megan Callahan, vice president of Lyft Healthcare, said in a statement.

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Inadequate transportation is a persistent roadblock to care for low income, elderly and other underserved patients.

A study published in 2019, for instance, found that a program that provided unlimited Lyft rides to older patients with transportation barriers helped these individuals reach their medical appointments and improved their self-reported quality of life.

Organizations also weather the cost of patient transportation issues. Millions of patients in the U.S. don’t receiving medical care due to transportation issues, with no-shows contributing to more than $150 billion in annual costs across the entire U.S. health system.

Lyft said in the announcement that the product is compliant with healthcare regulations. It’s the latest healthcare-focused effort from the company, which over the last couple of years has partnered with health organizations and coordination services, integrated with Epic’s electronic health record system and launched a campaign to provide rides to and from COVID-19 vaccination sites.

Uber, its primary rival in the ride-sharing space, has also had its eye on healthcare for some time.

Its Uber Health service launched in 2018, and it has since partnered with more than 1,000 healthcare organizations to provide NEMT. The service recently cut deals with NimbleRx and ScriptDrop to enable home prescription deliveries, but it also lost its leader, Dan Trigub, to home health startup MedArrive late last year.