This is the startup’s latest step into the care continuum.
As healthcare increasingly becomes a prime target of Silicon Valley, rideshare companies are busy partnering with health-tech startups and providers, launching ambitious initiatives to improve access. The latest move came today, with the announcement that Lyft had teamed up with Formativ Health, a tech-fueled health services company, to provide non-emergency rides for patients.
The deal will place Lyft Concierge into Formativ’s patient engagement platform, which will enable the company’s roughly 250 patient engagement specialists to book rides for patients in more than 40 states. Patients, who don’t need to be Lyft customers, may schedule trips to medical appointments on demand or ahead of time, according to the announcement.
“As we continue our efforts to reduce the healthcare transportation gap by introducing a reliable and efficient transportation solution to patients, partnering with organizations like Formativ — which schedules hundreds of thousands of appointments each year — is essential to having a tangible impact in this space,” Gyre Renwick, vice president of Lyft Business, said in a statement.
This isn’t Lyft’s first foray into healthcare. In June, for instance, Lyft inked an agreement for a billing arrangement with the fin-tech company Greenphire to handle transportation reimbursements for clinical trial participants. It has made similar deals, as well, and so has Uber, which this year spawned a new division called Uber Health.
So why do rideshare companies view healthcare as a lucrative opportunity? It goes back to patient access — a study last year, for example (PDF), suggested that almost 4 million people forego care every year because of transportation and geographic issues. Providers and insurers, who are focused more and more on preventive medicine, have an interest in bridging this gap — and Uber and Lyft have a potential cash cow on their hands.
Still, a study of Medicaid patients in Philadelphia found that free Lyft rides didn’t actually reduce the number of missed medical appointments. Study authors and other experts have said the disappointment might have been caused by other factors, including the way they delivered the service.
That finding hasn’t dampened the optimism of Formativ Health, which serves physician practices and health systems alike.
“Formativ partnered with Lyft to enable our team of patient engagement specialists to book on-demand or scheduled rides for the patients we serve on behalf of our clients, addressing some of the negative social determinants of health, decreasing barriers to care and making life that much easier to patients,” the company’s chief technology officer, David Harvey, said in a statement.
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