Lyft partners with Unite Us to coordinate rides to job interviews, food pantries

Lyft is partnering with Unite Us to coordinate rides to job interviews, food pantries and mental health services.

The collaboration will enable Unite Us, a social determinants of health technology company, to provide ride-enabled social service referrals through its platform.

The New York-based, venture-backed company builds coordinated care networks to connect health and social care providers. Coordinators and service providers who use Unite Us to make social care referrals can now order or schedule a Lyft ride on demand for patients.

For the ride-hailing company, it's the next logical next step in a strategy to address more insecurities related to transportation.

“At Lyft, we recognize the role that transportation plays in unlocking access to health and social care, and we’re proud to partner with forward-thinking healthcare organizations who share this goal,” said Megan Callahan, vice president of healthcare at Lyft. “Our partnership with Unite Us represents a significant step towards improving community health and evolving the way that people can access critical medical and social care services. 

Transportation is a barrier for people to access social care. Getting a ride to a job interview, a community center, a food pantry or other community-based organization is one step toward an individual meeting goals.

RELATED: 5 more Medicaid programs sign on with Lyft for nonemergency transport  

By integrating Lyft's ride-sharing services with Unite Us' coordinated care network, thousands of people across the country will have improved access to health and social care services, the companies said.

Through the Unite Us platform, community-based organizations that provide social services can coordinate and track outcomes across communities.

“Unite Us has spent seven years building and refining coordinated care networks that align and connect our social and health care partners around a shared goal to improve care in communities,” says Taylor Justice, president of Unite Us. “Our experience has enabled us to identify gaps in services–and transportation is a big one, everywhere

Lyft moved into the nonemergency medical transportation space in 2016. It's a transportation market estimated to be worth more than $3 billion. The company now partners with nine of the 10 largest U.S. health systems, nine of the 10 largest nonemergency transport (NEMT) brokers and the top 10 payers and works with organizations in all 50 states, according to Lyft.

RELATED: Lyft expanding its reach in healthcare with CommonSpirit Health partnership

Lyft and its biggest competitor Uber Health are jostling for dominance in the growing NEMT market, bolstered by data that suggest patients are already using these platforms regularly to get to doctors' appointments and other nonemergency care. 

Both companies have been expanding their features and working to secure more healthcare partners.

Uber Health just announced new features for its medical transportation service including multilingual notifications and scheduling for landline phone users.

Both companies have taken steps to integrate their application programming interfaces with major electronic health record vendors.

They've also put a focus on Medicaid as a key market as they make significant moves into healthcare. Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Tennessee, Virginia and Missouri now cover eligible NEMT rides through Lyft's platform, reaching 9 million additional people.