Lyft launches its own non-emergency transportation service, set to rival UberHealth
Upon the announcement of Uber’s healthcare transportation service, UberHealth, Lyft has now revealed that it is set to launch its own non-emergency transportation service.
Although Uber has undergone a number of bad management, sexism and a recent lawsuit surrounding its lack of wheelchair accessible vehicles, ride sharing company Lyft has been quietly cementing its grip on the transportation market, alongside global competitors such as Grab and GO-JEK.
The collaboration with health-IT solutions provider Allscripts will add to Lyft’s work within the healthcare space, which has been underway since 2016. By working with a number of healthcare providers, insurers and professionals within all areas of the healthcare ecosystem, its mission is to break down barriers and close the transportation gap by up to 50% by 2020.
In a blog, Chief Business Officer David Baga has explained: “We’ve built specialised tools tailored to the industry that have allowed our partners to schedule and manage thousands of rides each day. So instead of filling rooms with people and cell phones, healthcare organisations nationwide are using our solutions to quickly and conveniently arrange thousands of rides per day”
“We’ve partnered with the top five health systems in the US., and nine of the ten largest. We work with the top ten health brokers that manage non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT). Our partners include some of the biggest players in healthcare, like Blue Cross Blue Shield, LogistiCare, and now Allscripts.”
Its partnership with Allscripts will enable Lyft to incorporate non-emergency transportation directly into the physician’s workflow. Through leveraging Lyft’s proprietary application programming interface (API) and Allscripts Open platform, the companies plan to integrate this functionality, into Allscripts Sunrise electronic health record (EHR), to enable clinicians to order the Lyft service for patients.
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The service will appeal to those with frequent medical appointments, those with disabilities, and of course, those who wish to utilise a service which is tailored specifically for the healthcare sector and partnered with a renowned healthcare company.
"It's very much the next extension of our entrance into health care," Lyft's Chief Business Officer David Baga informed CNBC. "We very much believe it's going to take a collaborative effort, and we think that this kind of technology integration is going to be a critical path for being successful in terms of breaking down those barriers for access to transportation for the patient community."
Today, 3.6mn Americans have transportation issues that prevent them from getting to or from a doctor’s appointment, and 25% of lower-income patients have missed or rescheduled appointments due to lack of transportation. Lyft will therefore seek to reduce this through its partnership with Allscripts, remove such barriers and improve access to vital healthcare services.
Allscripts Sunrise EHR offers an intelligent, comprehensive suite of solutions for large, multi-specialty institutions. Built on an Open platform with advanced clinical decision support, it provides immediate analysis and insights across inpatient, ambulatory, emergency and other high-acuity care settings.
The partnership will see Allscripts integrate Sunrise EHR with Lyft’s Concierge API. This will give healthcare providers greater visibility of whether a patient will attend the appointment scheduled and deliver real-time insights within patient pickup, ETA and arrival for providers and other members of the care team. This will reduce healthcare costs of missed appointments and ensure the delivery of improved patient care.
“Health IT should always put the patient first and this partnership is representative of Allscripts commitment to connecting communities and helping providers deliver services their patients need,” commented Paul Black, Allscripts Chief Executive Officer.
“Our Open platform and vision for true interoperability enables us to work with a range of partners to deliver innovative solutions in all areas of care, and we feel it’s our responsibility to provide tools to help consumers access care.”
Edited to reflect Lyft’s ongoing work within the healthcare space since 2016
How health plans can reduce healthcare inequalities
The COVID-19 pandemic has put inequalities accessing the healthcare system in the spotlight. Jim Clement, Vice President of Product & Services at cloud provider Inovalon, tells us that health plans play the most integral role in advancing the health equity movement.
Why did it a global pandemic to highlight the issue of healthcare inequities?
Health inequity in the US has been well understood by healthcare professionals for many years, but it has become more evident due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It wasn’t until the racial and ethnic differential seen in response to COVID-19 related infections, deaths and vaccinations that many Americans became acutely aware of the health inequity due to sociodemographic factors such as race, geography, education and income.
Fortunately, there’s now a growing health equity movement afoot in America which aims to improve public health and achieve equity in health status for all people by ensuring opportunities are available to attain the highest level of health. While the entire healthcare ecosystem is important to this transformation, it is health plans that arguably play the most integral role.
How can health plans help?
Achieving health equity means obstacles to health must be removed, including poverty, discrimination, powerlessness, and lack of access to the basics like physicians, hospitals, medicine, technology, and health education. This is not only a social justice initiative, but also a clear call to action for health plan organisations that are bearing the economic brunt of the costs due to health disparities.
Health plan organisations that recognise the alignment between efforts to improve health equity and broader member engagement initiatives will be in the best position to move the needle. Plans must also understand that the provision of medical services within hospital walls, physician offices and other health services providers is necessary, but not sufficient.
By recognising that health inequity also includes non-medical factors such as employment, income, housing, transportation, childcare, and more, plans will be better equipped to ensure their members are set up for success.
What do healthcare providers need to do generally to address inequities?
Outreach by both health plans and providers is critical to ensuring people have knowledge of available services, the reason those services are critical to their health, and options to access those services based on their unique circumstances. With both stakeholders beating the same drum, progress can be made quickly.
Given the impact of social determinants of health (SDOH), should healthcare providers take a more active role in addressing these, or other agencies?
While communicating with patients is critically important, what is truly required to address inequalities is helping patients take medical actions – like regular PCP visits, monitoring A1C and accepting health coaching – that are necessary to maximise their health, along with non-medical actions –like availing themselves of community resources that address homelessness, food insecurity and employment services.
The most progressive providers and payers have or are putting in place programs to address these non-medical issues. In addition, non-medical tools such as transportation services can certainly help drive the effectiveness of medical services.
How important is it to educate patients about their health and how can this be done?
Education is a social determinant of health and a key lever to be used to drive health equity. Patients who do not understand their medical conditions or the consequences of non-compliance with their treatment plans are prone to poor outcomes.
For health plans, understanding member needs is one of the biggest drivers of quality care. A continuous cycle of engagement through feedback and appropriate responses will provide health plans with an opportunity to uncover, discuss, and resolve problems faster.
Improving member outreach and engagement can be made easier with a programmatic approach involving four stages of intentional outreach: Getting to know your members, educating members, seeking feedback from members and gaining member loyalty. Each stage not only contributes to a better member experience but also to improved outcomes and higher satisfaction scores.
Now that the issue has come to the fore, what do you think things will look like in 5 years or so?
I predict that health plans that get member engagement, education and equity right will achieve better health and greater value, faster. Those who get it wrong or delay will suffer the consequences of competitive disadvantage and pay a larger share of the rising costs associated with health inequity.