This week, Kaiser Health News highlighted the value that ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft have added to the healthcare industry, particularly for patients with chronic and complex conditions and those who live in areas with inadequate public transportation options. Services such as these offer fast and efficient transportation based on the patient’s schedule, unlike busses and other types of public transport that can be tough to deal with when an unexpected issue arises.
MedStar Health, which operates hospitals in Maryland and Washington, D.C., was one of the first providers to begin a partnership with Uber to provide transportation for patients to and from their appointments. Other systems have followed suit including Hackensack UMC in New Jersey and the National MedTrans Network, which partners with Lyft in New York, California and Nevada. Insurance costs for these services vary by state and provider – Medicaid patients can receive reimbursement depending upon their state’s laws, but those covered by Medicare are currently not able to receive reimbursement for non-emergency transport.
Despite this setback, strategic partnerships with ride-hailing services allow health systems to provide better access to medical care for their patients. Being able to further engage consumers, manage chronic and complex care populations, and ensure some control over what was once a barrier to target outcomes is providing both patients and health care providers with greater peace of mind.