Your Ride is Here

Need a ride to your next doctor’s appointment? A couple of new deals involving Uber and Lyft will allow many doctors to call for rides for their patients.

From ABC News:

Lyft and Uber are attempting to cure a major medical problem for poor people and the elderly: Getting a ride to the doctor.

The ride-hailing services are expanding their offer to take patients around the country to and from non-emergency health care appointments, and they have a huge market to target.

More than 7 million Americans miss medical care every year due to a lack of transportation, according to health economist Paul Hughes-Cromwick.

According to the American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC), “In the last year alone, 3.6 million people in the United States missed healthcare appointments. In an effort to remove transportation as a barrier to care, ride-sharing services are using their platforms to bring the ride to the patient….Results thus far point to a decrease in no-show rates, improved cancellation rates, and immediate cost savings for the health systems.” (later you will read a differing view)

USA Today recently put together a short video highlighting how the ride-share plan will work for patients using Uber as its example. You can click here or on the picture below to watch it.


While this may sound like a win-win-win situation for doctors, patients, and the ride-share companies, a recent story in the Washington Post raises some concerns.

A study of nearly 800 Medicaid patients in West Philadelphia found that offering to schedule free Lyft rides to and from primary care appointments didn’t decrease the number of missed appointments compared to a group of people not offered the service. That work, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine last month, calls into question whether simply expanding the availability of ride-sharing services would help solve the problem. 

“We really thought ride shares would be super convenient. We were pretty surprised, actually, it did not work out,” said Krisda H. Chaiyachati, a primary-care provider at the University of Pennsylvania and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. “I think we [as providers] tend to apply our choices of how we live our lives, and we kind of impose it on our patients’ lives. We probably all use ride-sharing services — I used one this morning. We think the same thing is going to apply to a sick person or a poor person, and that might not be true.”

However, the story went on to say that individual companies have reported benefits. You may also be wondering how the decision will be made to call Uber, Lyft, or an ambulance. The Atlantic wrote, ” it would be up to doctors to determine if a patient was well enough to take an Uber (or Lyft), rather than an ambulance, and that if something happened to the patient in transit, the driver should just call 911.”

What do you think about the ride-share plan to help patients get to their appointments in a timely manner? Do you think it will make a difference and cut down on missed visits? Generating thoughtful conversations around the health issues making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!


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