More Programs Offering Low-Cost, Reliable Transportation for Health Care Visits

  • Date: 06/13/2024

In 2017, executives at Denver Health were tracking a troubling trend. No-show rates were climbing and wait times for Medicaid-brokered cab rides were at times inching toward the two-hour mark. The final straw came when an elderly woman waited nearly seven hours in the hospital’s lobby for a taxi to take her home.

“That’s when I knew we needed to do something different,” said Amy Friedman, MA, chief experience officer at Denver Health, which is Colorado’s primary safety-net institution.

A patient survey found that the missed appointments were largely due to a lack of transportation, which in turn was driving the growing demand and longer wait times for Medicaid and Medicare-funded rides. Many of Denver Health’s patients depend on Medicaid or Medicare, or have no insurance at all, Friedman said, noting that some live in hard-to-navigate housing areas and homeless shelters, and speak languages other than English. Some patients reported having to take four different buses to get to Denver Health for an appointment.

Determined to solve the problem, Friedman reached out to Lyft for assistance. Eager to help, the ride hailing company immediately went to work to develop what is widely praised as the nation’s first platform enabling a hospital system to order rides for patients in need of transportation services.

The safe, affordable and reliable program was an instant hit, with hundreds of rides booked in just the first month. Patients can arrange rides in a variety of ways, such as during discharge planning or simply by telling a nurse or doctor that they do not have anyone to pick them up or take them to an appointment.

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