Lyft, Uber Health, and Ride Health have implemented safety protocol, efforts to expand patient access to care, and partnerships to give rides to frontline health workers.
Medical rideshare has been a boon for healthcare in recent years, helping to drive patient access to care. That support remains even as the novel coronavirus spreads across the country.
New efforts from rideshare giant Lyft aim to address public health issues as the nation grapples with the spread of the novel coronavirus. Among those efforts are support for patient care access and rides to work for frontline medical providers, Lyft said in a statement.
“In light of the COVID-19 crisis, we’re using the expertise of Lyft’s healthcare team to do more to serve urgent public health needs, including helping more patients access life-sustaining medical care, healthcare workers access reliable rides, and hospitals access critical medical supplies,” the company explained in a press release.
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Specifically, Lyft maintains its continued focus on patient access to care by being a key non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) provider. The rideshare provider has now established new partnerships with state Medicaid programs in Florida, Indiana, and South Carolina, bringing its total Medicaid partnerships into 10 states and the District of Columbia.
This will be an important step forward for patients who may not be experiencing coronavirus symptoms, Lyft said. Despite the virus spread throughout the nation, some patients still need to access non-coronavirus essential treatments, and maintaining that chronic disease management will be key to population health.
“With the continued need to provide access to essential care for Florida’s most vulnerable citizens, we must do everything we can to find innovative, affordable solutions,” said Daniel Perez, a Representative from Florida’s 116th District. “I’m proud to have sponsored legislation to make it easier for eligible Medicaid patients to have access to essential health services through rideshare. I’m pleased to see that as a result of this bill, Lyft rides are now taking place for eligible patients across the state.”
Lyft is also providing a system for getting healthcare workers to their jobs on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rideshare company has newly established partnerships with healthcare providers across the country, including but not limited to CommonSpirit Health, Henry Ford Health System, University of Maryland Medical Center, and AMITA Health.
Health systems have also teamed up with Lyft to provide healthcare workers with free access to the bike and scooter share programs offered through the rideshare platform. This access spans across 10 cities nationwide and will impact providers at Rush Medical Center and Mount Sinai Health System, among others.
“As the COVID-19 crisis persists, we are doing everything we can to protect the health and safety of our essential employees,” said Evan Rothenberg, the director of recreation at Mount Sinai Health System. “We’re proud to partner with Lyft on a commute program that both supports public health and meets the transportation needs of our healthcare workers on the front lines each day.”
Finally, Lyft is expanding its contract opportunities with drivers through new delivery work. Specifically, Lyft drivers will have the opportunity to deliver essential medical supplies to area hospitals or clinics. Drivers can also deliver food to local food pantries.
These opportunities stem from new partnerships with Army of Angels, Amerigroup Tennessee (Anthem), and Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, among others.
Rideshare companies surged onto the medical scene just a few short years ago to fill in a gaping hole in patient care access: transportation. Now, they are working to play their part in quelling the coronavirus crisis.
For its part, Uber has created a form for medical providers and food banks to request transportation help during the coronavirus spread. The rideshare giant is also offering free meals to some first responders, has committed to temporarily suspending accounts of riders who have confirmed positive for COVID-19, suspending Uber Pool, and has created contactless delivery options for Uber Eats.
Uber has also announced certain protections in communities served outside the United States.
And Ride Health, a newcomer on the medical rideshare scene, last month outlined how it’s keeping its drivers safe should they come in contact with a patient who may have been exposed to the coronavirus.
“New technology can play an important role in tracking close interactions and reducing risk to vulnerable members of society by decreasing the feedback-loop time from a positive COVID-19 test to informing recent contacts so they can protect themselves and their families,” said Imran Cronk, CEO and founder of Ride Health. “We launched this tracking process, which leverages our inherent data model, as a public service to help ensure that the millions of Americans who can’t postpone medical care will have a safer means of transportation during this pandemic.”
Using its repositories of data, Ride Health is able to look at the different partner healthcare facilities to which drivers took patients. From there, the technology is able to identify if a patient has been tested positive for coronavirus. Taking the appropriate precautions, the technology notifies drivers if there is a risk of exposure adhering to HIPAA protocol.
Hospital and clinic partners will also be in touch with drivers with key patient education information, including the essential precautions drivers take such as self-quarantine and testing for themselves. The NEMT provider may also require that rides only be given in cars equipped with certain protective gear, such as personal protective equipment (PPE).
Source: PatientEngagement HIT