Hospital system looks to Uber to expand patient access to care

MedStar Health is partnering with the Uber ride-sharing service to get patients to and from their appointments at the system's hospitals and other facilities in Maryland, the District of Columbia and northern Virginia.

Uber is available throughout MedStar's service area, the health system said in an announcement about the partnership. MedStar provides a Ride with Uber link from its website. Patients type in where they want to be picked up, where the provider is located, and the date and time of the appointment. Uber will send a reminder when it's time for pick up.

For now, it's up to patients to pay for their Uber rides. But MedStar is considering a pilot program that would provide subsidized rides based on need, Mike Ruiz, chief digital officer, told Hospitals & Health Networks.

Having reliable transportation is especially important for infusion and chemotherapy patients undergoing multiple treatments, Dennis Pullin, president of MedStar Harbor Hospital, told H&HN. The publication cited research that 3.6 million people miss appointments or delay medical care because of transportation issues.

In New York City, Uber competitor Lyft recently announced a partnership with National Medtrans Network to provide nonemergency transportation to seniors. That service includes a third-party request option called Concierge that lets providers request rides on behalf of seniors who don't have smartphones, FierceHealthPayer reported.

Transportation is one of several social determinants of health, or factors that often lead to health disparities, especially among poor or disadvantaged populations, as FierceHealthcare has reported.

To learn more:
- read the MedStar announcement
- see the Ride with Uber link
- here's the H&HN article