To improve population health, offer patients a Lyft

Photo credit: Getty/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Better access to routine care can help improve patient health--especially for those with costly-to-treat chronic conditions that require multiple appointments. Payers and providers are increasingly looking to a simple and inexpensive solution: Using ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft to help patients get the care they need.

The trend is popping up around the country.

Earlier this year, for example, Lyft announced a partnership with National Medtrans Network in New York City to provide non-emergency transportation to seniors. And they don’t need a smartphone: A web request product called "Concierge" lets provider partners request rides for patients.

And this spring, MedStar Health partnered with Uber 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. A link on its website allows patients to reserve rides online.

“We probably had 50 different systems across the country reach out to us and ask us ‘How did you do it?’” Michael Ruiz, chief digital officer for MedStar, told Kaiser Health News in an article published on The Atlantic website. “I would say that it has been a seismic shift for the people who have used the service and the places we’ve provided it.”

In some cases, Medicaid and some Medicare Advantage plans pay for the service--but some private insurers are also experimenting with ride-hailing accounts for their members, industry executives who attended a FierceHealthPayer event about using data to improve population health recently told us.


During an invite-only roundtable discussion, health insurance executives shared how they’re using data and other tools and methods to improve the health of their members. Check out FierceHealthPayer’s executive report of the event: Data Analytics to Improve Population Health.

There’s also a side benefit to using ride-hailing services instead of cabs: It could help root out transportation fraud, waste and abuse. It’s an area ripe for abuse, as ambulance services contributed to as much as $350 million in fraudulent Medicare billing each year.

"Lyft will help by providing real-time reporting," Amit Patel, Lyft's director of enterprise partnerships, told Fast Company. "There will be no ambiguity as to whether a ride was completed or not."

- here's the KHN/Atlantic article