Lyft's Megan Callahan is driving access to care amid COVID

Megan Callahan

Megan Callahan, VP of healthcare at Lyft

Education: She holds a master’s in public health degree, with a focus on healthcare administration and epidemiology, from the University of California Los Angeles and an undergraduate degree in biochemistry from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California.

About her: Transportation is among the most common barriers to care. But in the last year under Megan's leadership as VP of Healthcare, Lyft has made significant headway in establishing itself as a leading solution in improving access, officials said. In 2020 alone, Callahan scaled Lyft's partnerships to include industry leaders and innovative companies like Sutter Health, CommonSpirit Health, Unite Us, and Logisticare | Circulation.
And at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, she and her team stood up new partnerships with over a dozen health systems in the U.S., helping more than 10,000 essential workers across more than 160 hospitals and clinics get to and from work. Those new and expanded partnerships include Henry Ford Health System, University of Maryland Medical Center, AMITA Health, Rush Medical Center and Mount Sinai Health System.
“From shelter in place mandates, to creating a safe environment for Lyft drivers and patients during a pandemic, and ultimately launching a delivery service to get essential healthcare items to patient’s homes," Callahan said. "There is no metric for any of this, but it has been my biggest challenge for the year and I’m proud of what our team has achieved.”
This came after just a year after Lyft became the first national rideshare company to enroll as a provider in a Medicaid in 2019. Under Callahan’s leadership, Lyft is now providing access to rides for Medicaid patients in 14 states plus Washington, D.C., helping up to 29 million people to get to their appointments.

Callahan is an advisor at FORESIGHT—an initiative of the Rippel Foundation and the Blue Shield of California Foundation—which is a multi-year effort focused on designing a future for health. “We helped our healthcare partners see first-hand the impact that rideshare can have on healthcare access and quality,” Callahan said. 

For example, in 2019, Amerigroup Tennessee (an Anthem company) partnered with Lyft to improve access to care for its members. Results to-date include a 50% decrease in primary care gaps, a 44% increase in primary care physician visits, a 90% decrease in transportation-related grievances, and 92% of rides receive a five-out-of-five stars rating.

First job: “I was a short-lived skate-park attendant and moved onto the auspicious world of hostessing and waitressing at Coco’s Restaurant, where I learned many life lessons, such as not to spill hot coffee into a man’s lap.”

Accomplishment she’s most proud of: “Overall, I’m most proud of the family I’ve built with my amazing husband and our two daughters. They remind me every day why I chose to work in healthcare.” Professionally, she’s most proud of the ideation and carve-out of McKesson Technology Solutions and the subsequent merger with Emdeon, which resulted in the current day Change Healthcare. “It was an incredibly complex transaction. Seeing it through to the other side as the chief strategy officer at Change Healthcare was incredibly rewarding.”

Problem she’s most passionate about trying to solve: “When I was working in disease management services at McKesson, transportation was always cited as the first or second barrier to program adherence, and it’s one of the reasons I was so excited to come and work at Lyft. Back in the day, we didn’t call transportation a ‘social determinant of health’ (SDOH).”

Callahan cites that nearly 4 million Americans miss a medical appointment each year because they lack transportation. “When we think about SDOH at Lyft, it comes down to getting people to resources or getting resources to the people. And I’m passionate about reducing transportation barriers to care and improving access to programs that promote overall health.”

Book she recommends: “Stamped by Ibram X. Kendi was eye opening for me. It explores how racist ideas started in the U.S. and were enshrined into the fabric of our country—starting at Cotton Mather and ending at Angela Davis. It’s a compelling read that makes you question yourself.”

Advice she'd give your younger self: “Don’t contort yourself to fit someone else’s norms.” As a younger woman, she was told to moderate her views and communication style. But she says the value of what each of us brings to the workplace is best realized through our authentic selves. “And while all of us can use some improvement, we shouldn’t turn ourselves into pretzels to be heard and valued.”

What her career would be if it wasn’t this: Coming from a family of clinicians, Callahan never considered working in any other industry.

Advice she'd offer to healthcare leaders seeking to make a real impact on systemic problems of racism: “Acknowledge that your experiences and perspectives come with bias, and actively work to learn and challenge your own assumptions. That work is never done. At Lyft, we’re constantly listening and thinking about how we can show up promptly for communities of color with action, not just in words — and stay engaged even when others stop paying attention.”

Lyft's Megan Callahan is driving access to care amid COVID