Blue Cross Blue Shield teams up with Lyft to improve patients' access to healthcare

Lyft car
For an estimated 3.6 million Americans, transportation barriers result in missed or delayed medical appointments. Image: Praiselightmedia / CC-BY-SA-4.0

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association has become the latest healthcare organization to partner with a ride-hailing company in an effort to boost patients’ care access.

As part of a partnership with Lyft announced Tuesday, the company's services will be incorporated into a new service delivery model for select Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. The goal is to provide free rides to nonemergency medical appointments for members who live in areas with no reliable transportation alternative.

The pilot program will run through a platform that leverages Lyft’s existing concierge service—which focuses on giving seniors rides to doctor’s appointments—rather than the regular Lyft app.

To schedule a ride, members contact their medical provider or BCBS company, which will book the ride for them through Lyft. Members will then receive confirmation and alerts on their mobile phone about their scheduled ride via an SMS text message, so they don’t necessarily have to have a smartphone to participate.

The pilot markets and timing of the rollout have yet to be determined, and will be announced by individual BCBS companies.

Such a partnership is critical, the BCBSA announcement notes, because for an estimated 3.6 million Americans, transportation barriers result in missed or delayed medical appointments.

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“Many Americans live in areas where medical care is beyond the reach of walking, biking or public transportation,” said Trent Haywood, chief medical officer of the BCBSA and BCBS Institute president, who noted that as a result, “they struggle to access critical healthcare services, even when they have health insurance.”

“We are committed to addressing issues like transportation that are inextricably linked to health outcomes, yet can’t be tackled through healthcare resources alone,” he added.

Lyft already works with the National Medtrans Network in New York City to provide seniors with rides to nonemergency medical appointments. Uber, meanwhile, has a partnership with MedStar Health that lets patients reserve rides online to the health system’s facilities.