Soon patients may have no excuse to miss a doctor appointment.
MedStar Health, which serves Maryland and Washington, D.C., recently teamed up with Uber, the ride service, to provide patients with a reliable option to get to and from their medical appointments safely.
Since the partnership launched in January, a “Ride with Uber” link has been placed under “What’s Trending Now” on the MedStarHealth.org website, providing patients with reliable door-to-door transportation to doctor appointments. A patient simply enters his pickup location, the MedStart provider location and date of appointment. Another feature allows patients to receive automatic reminders an hour before their appointments and to learn approximate wait times and ride cost.
A Community Transportation Association study found that 3.6 million Americans miss or delay medical care because of transportation issues.
“I do see firsthand the patients who are challenged with transport,” says Dennis Pullin, president, MedStar Harbor Hospital and senior vice president of MedStar Health. “Many who need multiple treatments, such as infusion or chemotherapy, can’t afford to miss an appointment.”
A large number of individuals unable to make it to their appointments are low-income and can’t always afford transportation. MedStar is looking to improve access for this demographic through a pilot program that would provide subsidized rides. “We’re on a strategic road map to provide our patients a seamless experience to our services and take some hassle out of health care,“ Ruiz says.
Uber’s biggest rival, Lyft, also is getting involved in health care. It recently partnered with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to spread awareness of the open enrollment period for insurance marketplaces and explain the marketplaces to its freelance drivers.
The National MedTrans Network, which arranges nonemergency medical transportation for patients, partnered with Lyft on a test program in New York City that allows MedTrans operators to book a car for clients using a Web-based dashboard that Lyft designed.