Looking to the opioid use disorder space the National Institutes of Health has given Roundtrip, a software platform for organizing medical transport, a $252,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I grant in order to look at the impact of transportation on OUD treatment.
Specifically, the study will be zeroing in on appointment show-rates and patient experiences. Roundtrip, the University of Pennsylvania, Lyft and Contra Costa Health services are joining forces to conduct the study, which will predominantly use Lyft’s ride-sharing services to provide the transportation.
Roundtrip software was designed to help healthcare professionals order and coordinate a patients’ medical transport using a pool of available ride providers, whether they be Lyft drivers, facility-owned vehicles, volunteers or otherwise. The platform is available online and as a mobile app, and includes interfaces for providers and patients alike.
In order to be included in the program patients are required to be over the age of 18, be diagnosed with an OUD, report having a difficult time finding transportation, and be enrolled in an outpatient clinical treatment program.
“This study builds on prior research we have conducted to understand the importance of “transportation and how patients engage with health care,” Dr. Krisda Chaiyachati, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and a leading investigator in the study, said in a statement. “Especially with the opioid crisis spread across the country, innovations and partnerships are needed to explore how gaps in access to medication assisted treatment can be bridged, and we are looking forward to working with Roundtrip to explore how their technology solution might offer a meaningful impact for this epidemic.”
WHT IT MATTERS
In the last decade we’ve seen America’s opioid epidemic spread. Since 1999 more than 750,000 individuals have died of opioid overdoses, according to the CDC. The epidemic hit its peak in 2016 with 42,000 deaths.
Some patients with OUD opt for Medication-Assisted treatment, which combines behavioral therapy and medications to treat the disorder. In this kind of treatment, a patient may be taking methadone, buprenorphine or naltrexone in order to treat the addiction, along with support from medical professionals, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The researchers are pitching ride services as a way for people seeking such services to be able to easily get back and forth to treatment.
THE LARGER TREND
This isn’t the first time that companies have studied the results of medical transport. In 2018 NEMT technology company Hitch Health and Lyft announced the results of a year-long pilot partnership that suggest the joint service was responsible for a 27% reduction in clinic no-shows, as well as an increase in revenue for an internal medicine clinic in downtown Minneapolis. Similarly, Roundtrip also recently revealed that the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Camden, New Jersey, was able to reduce direct transportation costs by 30% with the service, and cut its no-show rate down to 4%.