Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft provide transportation services to airports, from restaurants, and to places throughout the state. Now, they’re trying to help people make it to their doctors’ appointments. Both companies have ventured into the non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) space with Uber Health and Lyft Concierge. For patients who are house-bound without transportation, or for those not well enough to drive themselves to medical appointments, Uber and Lyft – in conjunction with physicians and hospitals – could offer a real solution.
A story in USA Today reports that Uber Health has partnered with 100 health care providers last year to test whether providing the ridesharing service would help decrease the number of no-shows for medical appointments. Soon after, Lyft unveiled its partnership with medical records company Allscripts, through which their drivers will be able to serve an estimated 7 million patients through 2,500 hospitals and 180,000 physicians.
It appears that patients are happy with these new services. A story in Health Affairs reported on the results of a 2017 pilot study between Lyft and CareMore Health, which is a physician-owned, physician-led integrated care deliver program. The study found that Lyft’s on-time performance was 92%, compared to 74% for other providers. The average wait time for Lyft was 9.2 minutes, compared to 16.6 minutes for other providers. Patient satisfaction for patients using the Lyft service was high; 96% reported feeling “safe” or “very safe” during their ride, and 98% reported being “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the service, including the timeliness, cleanliness and professionalism of the driver.
Why would doctors work with rideshare companies?
Uber Health and Lyft Concierge partner with doctors and other healthcare providers, who then order rides on behalf of their patients to and from the hospital or clinic. This can help ensure that their patients make their follow-up appointments. On top of that, per USA Today, “In some cases, hospitals and doctors may get a higher insurance reimbursement rate for a low level of readmissions, an incentive to make it easier for patients to make their follow-up appointments.” In other words, if patients attend their regular check-ups and follow-ups, they are less likely to be readmitted to a hospital for emergency care.
Working with Uber and Lyft, then, serves a dual purpose: doctors get to see their patients (which is good for the patients), and they may be rewarded financially for doing so.
What are the limitations of using Uber and Lyft for medical transportation?
Lyft and Uber are only suited for able-bodied patients who can get from their home to the vehicle, and from their vehicle into the healthcare facility. Most vehicles are not designed for disabled people, or those who require wheelchair access. (Uber Health does provide wheelchair accessible vans in cities participating in their pilot program including London, Toronto, Austin and Chicago.)
Furthermore, you do not need to be trained in any medical care to drive for Uber or Lyft. If a patient is experiencing an emergency medical situation – like a heart attack, for instance – he or she would be safer in an ambulance, with trained emergency personnel. While it is true that a person could have a heart attack in an Uber under any other circumstances, we should be concerned that some riders may believe themselves safer while traveling with Uber Health or Lyft Concierge. In truth, they are no safer than they would be in any other vehicle.
Finally, there is no hard data to say that the programs are working. US News reports that it is still unclear whether offering Uber or Lyft services to patients reduces the rate of missed appointments for nonemergency medical care. A recent clinical study involving 790 West Philadelphia patients on Medicaid. Half were assigned to receive Lyft transportation benefits, but researchers found little difference in the rate of missed appointments.
While Uber and Lyft drivers are background checked by their respective companies, they are not professional drivers. Anyone who is injured in an Uber or Lyft vehicle may have grounds for legal action to recover compensation for their injuries and other losses. An experienced South Carolina car crash lawyer from McGowan Hood & Felder will protect your legal rights after you were injured because of someone else’s negligence.
If you were injured in a collision with an Uber or Lyft vehicle, or sustained injuries while using their new healthcare transportation services, you could be entitled to damages for those injuries. Please call McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, today at 803-327-7800 to schedule a free consultation, or fill out our contact form from any device.
Randy is the former President of the South Carolina Association for Justice. He has been certified by the American Board of Professional Liability as a specialist in Medical Malpractice Law which is recognized by the South Carolina Bar. Randy has also been awarded the distinction of being a “Super Lawyer” 10 times in the last decade. He has over 25 years of experience helping injured people fight back against corporations, hospitals and wrong-doers.
Read more about S. Randall Hood