Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft have continued their domination of their own markets, growing 15.2% a year, amounting this year to $17.1 billion in total revenue and $293.92 per user (see The Statistica Portal: Ride Sharing). But these services are now crossing over into other industries such as online food ordering and delivery (see Report: Bankers Value UberEats At Up To $20 billion) and bike rentals (see Lyft Just Became America’s Biggest Bikeshare Company). Uber’s Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi was quoted as saying that Uber seeks to be the Amazon of transportation and the technology platform for services like public transit, bikes, and buses (see Uber Plans IPO In 2019, Wants to Be ‘Amazon for Transportation’).

And as part of that diversification, both Uber and Lyft are planning larger inroads into health care. This is a trend we’ve previously looked at and one that sees these services building the foundation for a larger effect on health and human service entities (see Uberizing Health Care Transportation, Can Uber & Lyft Answer The No-Show Problem? and Uber & Lyft Enter The Health Care Market). Transportation as a key barrier to care is evident—recent results from the National Academy of Sciences show that 3.6 million consumers a year aren’t getting treatment because they don’t have transportation (see Access To Health Care And Nonemergency Medical Transportation: Two Missing Links).

How is the market addressing this? One way is for provider organizations to work directly with rideshare companies. For example, Rosary Hall at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center in Cleveland Ohio launched a pilot last year which provides free rides using Uber to consumers with addiction disorders enrolled in the hospital’s intensive outpatient program (see Ridesharing Removes Major Barrier To Attendance In Cleveland IOP). Before the pilot, overall program attendance was 76%—after the pilot attendance rose to 90%. And, Lyft announced it is partnering with Allscripts to allow clinical professionals to request non-emergency rides for consumers (see Lyft Announces Integration With Allscripts EHR, Allowing 180,000 Clinical Professionals To Hail Rides For Consumers).

We are also seeing tech startups step in as a third-party provider. Last summer, for example, Minnesota-based medical startup Hitch Health partnered with Lyft to offer consumers free rides to Minneapolis’s Hennepin Healthcare Clinic (see Startup Seeks To Help Patients Make Their Appointments). And there are companies like Circulation, a digital platform that coordinates non-emergency transportation between hospitals and rideshare companies for Massachusetts General Hospital and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston (see LogistiCare Enters Into Agreement To Acquire Circulation and Partners HealthCare Teams up with Circulation to Expand Transportation Options for Patients).

We are also seeing insurance companies forge partnerships with ridesharing services. Last year, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association announced a new partnership with Lyft (see Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Lyft Join Forces to Increase Access to Health Care in Communities with Transportation Deserts). Earlier this month, we saw the first results from one of these types of partnerships when Cigna-HealthSpring announced that their partnership with Lyft to provide Medicare Advantage beneficiaries with rides to doctor appointments and pharmacies had resulted in over 14,500 transports in the first six months of their partnership and a 90% consumer satisfaction rate (see Cigna-HealthSpring and Lyft Partnership Touts Big Savings).

Will this become the “go-to” method for transporting non-emergent consumers? If it saves money—either directly on the rides or in the overall cost of care for consumers with chronic conditions—then I wager that it will. But only time will tell.

For more, join OPEN MINDS Senior Associate Joseph P. Naughton-Travers, Ed.M. for his Executive Seminar, Making The Right Tech Investments For Your Organization: An Executive Seminar On Technology Budgeting & Planning, on February 13 in Clearwater, Florida.

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