Ridesharing app Lyft is furthering its foothold in the medical transportation space with the launch of Lyft Pass for Healthcare, a tool that lets patients plan their own rides to providers.
The new program lets partnering health plan members, including those enrolled in select Medicaid and Medicare programs, as well as patients from client health organizations, request a ride to their medical appointment through the Lyft app. Previously health organizations or insurers requested the ride for patients.
The organization partnering and paying Lyft will be able to: set the budget for the program, put a cap on cost per ride, approve pick-up and drop-off locations, and set the times when passes could be used.
The clients can then share a pass through a phone number, a code or a direct link to the patient. Next, the patient will get a text alerting them that their provider has sent a pass, along with details about coverage. Patients can then request the ride, including the location and time of pick-up and drop-off. Clients can monitor the usage of the rides and requests.
WHY IT MATTERS
Missed medical appointments have plagued the healthcare industry for years. A study published in Health Management Technology estimates the total cost of missed appointments in the U.S. every year is around $150 billion.
Scores of ridesharing companies have quickly jumped into the medical transportation space looking to tackle this gap in healthcare.
With this new announcement, Lyft is pitching this as a way to give patients more autonomy over their medical transportation.
"We’re inserting a world-class technology many are already familiar with into patients’ care journey," Megan Callahan, VP of LyftHealthcare, said in a statement. "By leveraging our superpower in consumer tech, we’ve automated an important piece of health access that allows patients to be self-sufficient and in control, while allowing our partners to focus on the services they provide, rather than on administrative processes."
THE LARGER TREND
Lyft has been working in the healthcare space for some time. In 2018 it named Megan Callahan the first VP of Lyft's healthcare business. Since its launch, it has made a slew of deals with insurers and provider organizations.
In 2019 Lyft landed approval as a Medicaid provider in Arizona, specifically as a non-emergency medical transportation service. This approval meant that Arizona Medicaid patients had the option of using Lyft to get to and from medical appointments.
But Lyft isn't the only ridesharing app in the health game. Uber has proved a competitor both inside and outside of the healthcare arena. In 2018 the Silicon Valley giant launched Uber Health. Since then it has inked a number of deals with provider and payer groups. It has also dipped into medication delivery. In August, Uber Health launched a new prescription delivery service with NimbleRx.
In addition to Lyft and Uber, there are several medical-specific transportation startups on the market. For example, Ride Health's medical transport coordination platform picked up $6.2 million in venture funding in 2020, and digital health transport-service Roundtrip landed $5.1 million in Series A funding in 2019.