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Lyft Unveils Non-Emergency Medical Transportation App for Patients

Lyft Pass for Healthcare will allow patients to book their own non-emergency medical transportation while still having it covered by a payer or provider.

Rideshare company Lyft has developed a patient-facing non-emergency medical transportation system, Lyft Pass for Healthcare, that would let patients schedule and obtain their own rides to appointments, the company announced in a statement emailed to journalists.

Typically, patients using a covered form of NEMT need to have their providers schedule that ride, something that can be burdensome and ultimately get in the way of healthcare access, the company said. Lyft Pass for Healthcare would allow patients to receive a covered NEMT Lyft ride that they have schedule themselves.

"We’re inserting a world class technology many are already familiar with into patients’ care journey," Megan Callahan, VP of Lyft Healthcare, said in the emailed 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."

Lyft has been a big player in the healthcare space for some time. The rideshare company first emerged as a key partner for healthcare organizations and health payers to help close transportation gaps.

According to 2017 figures from the American Hospital Association (AHA), 3.6 million people do not access medical care because they don’t have a ride. Limited access to transportation is the leading cause of missed appointments for children, AHA also found.

Lyft and other rideshare options emerged as a cost-efficient strategy for closing that gap. Healthcare organizations and health payers that signed on with Lyft could cover the ride to and from a medical appointment for a patient and see a return on investment.

But as noted above, patients had to go through their payers or providers to get that ride. Someone from the organization would have to schedule the ride through an NEMT platform, which could be an arduous process for patients.

Through Lyft Pass for Healthcare, patients can hail a ride within Lyft's usual consumer-facing platform using the Lyft Pass. Using this system, the sponsoring healthcare provider or health payer, like Medicaid, will still foot the bill for the ride, Lyft confirmed.

Lyft Pass for Healthcare will cover a variety of healthcare access points, including rides to recurring healthcare appointments, vaccinations, pickup at the local pharmacy, and check-ups. Healthcare organizations and payers can share the platform with users via a text message link, code, or the patient’s phone number. From there, the patient will be able to access her Lyft Pass.

Sponsoring healthcare organizations can determine the budget it will set for Lyft rides, including the maximum cost it can pay for each ride. Providers can also determine approved pick-up and drop-off spots.

The platform also allows healthcare organizations and payers to monitor use, including cost of rides hailed using Lyft Pass for Healthcare.

This move builds on Lyft’s efforts to close care access gaps, with recent announcements specifically targeting patient access to the COVID-19 vaccine. In March, the rideshare company announced it would provide rides for some patients who lack transportation to a vaccine site.

The program would incentivize some Lyft users to donate a ride to a vaccine site, the company explained. Lyft also partnered with Hilton and Delta, both of which would also incentivize their rewards members for donating rides to vaccine sites.

“I am energized by the continued rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, and while millions are already vaccinated, we must ensure that those most at risk are not left behind,” Lyft Co-Founder and President John Zimmer said in a press release.

“That's why I am proud to expand our Vaccine Access program, bringing together longstanding Lyft partners and their members to help provide transportation access so that our parents, grandparents, and loved ones won't need to worry about how they'll make their vaccine appointment.”

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