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Health Care Mobility Services

Mary K. Wolfe, Noreen C. McDonald
2020
BMC Public Health 20(1)

Abstract

Background

Transportation barriers prevent millions of people from accessing health care each year. Health policy innovations such as shared savings payment models (commonly used in accountable care organizations) present financial incentives for providers to offer patient transportation to medical care. Meanwhile, ridesourcing companies like Uber and Lyft have entered the market to capture a significant share of spending on non-emergency health care transportation. Our research examines the current landscape of innovative health care mobility services in the US.

Methods

We conducted an environmental scan to identify case examples of utilization of ridesourcing technology to facilitate non-emergency health care transportation and developed a typology of innovative health care mobility services. The scan used a keyword-based search of news publications with inductive analysis. For each instance identified, we abstracted key information including: stakeholders, launch date, transportation provider, location/service area, payment/booking method, target population, level of service, and any documented outcomes.

Results

We discovered 53 cases of innovation and among them we identified three core types of innovation or collaboration. The first and most common type of innovation is when a health care provider leverages ridesourcing technology to book patient trips. This involves both established and nascent transportation companies tailoring the ridesourcing experience to the health care industry by adding HIPAA-compliance to the booking process. The second type of innovation involves an insurer or health plan formally partnering with a ridesourcing company to expand transportation offerings to beneficiaries or offer these services for the first time. The third type of innovation is when a paratransit provider partners with a ridesourcing company; these cases cite increased flexibility and reliability of ridesourcing services compared to traditional paratransit.

Conclusions

Ridesourcing options are becoming a part of the mode choice set for patients through formal partnerships between ridesourcing companies, health care providers, insurers, and transit agencies. The on-demand nature of rides, booking flexibility, and integration of ride requests and payment options via electronic medical records appear to be the strongest drivers of this innovation.