Missed medical appointments cost hospitals, doctors, and therapists a lot of money. While some patients miss appointments due to their own personal reasons, many patients simply can’t manage the transportation: they don’t have family member or a friend who can take them or they can’t afford public transportation, a taxi, or a medical-transport van. Many patients are too sick to drive themselves.
According to story in USA Today, medical providers have found a new way to help patients meet their appointments – ride apps from ride sharing companies. Uber and Lyft have both gone live with apps that health providers can use to arrange for patient rides to and from the doctor’s office or any other health facility. SCI Solutions, a medical IT company, claims that about 30% of patients don’t show for appointments costing health care providers $150 billion yearly.
The advantages of ride-share apps for medical patients is that they provide door-to-door service that is usually fairly cheap, or even free for patients to use. Health providers can track whether their patients are on time or close by. The services are especially useful for seniors and patients with dementia.
Early in 2018, Uber Health, after an eight-month trial period with 100 health care providers, went live with its new healthcare app. Not to be outdone, Lyft announced that it is partnering with health records company Allscripts to help 2,500 hospitals, 45,000 physician practices, and 180,000 doctors help up to seven million patients obtain rides.
The Uber and Lyft systems give doctors and others the ability to schedule multiple rides at once. The health providers decide which patients are eligible based on their medical needs.
At the top of the list of reasons health care providers use rideshare services is so that patients who have been released from a hospital, such as for surgery after a car accident, can make their follow-up appointments.
There are several major concerns about these new health-transportation rideshare services:
- The Uber and Lyft services are no substitute for an ambulance. Patients in need can’t wait for their ride to come. Additionally, many patients need immediate medical help. Ambulance companies generally use staff that have emergency medical training. Very few Uber and Lyft drivers know how to treat accident victims – they just know how to drive. Even in non-emergency situations, some patients do or will need drivers with the proper medical certification.
- Some patients don’t have phones. Rideshare apps generally rely on mobile technology. One solution is for the doctor’s office to print out the ride-share options if the patient is in the office.
- The services aren’t a good fit for people with disabilities. For starters, it can be hard to fit a wheelchair into the rideshare vehicle. That lack of service to disabled persons is now being challenged by Disability Rights Advocates in a class-action lawsuit against Uber. Uber is testing a wheelchair van service called UberWAY in several locations. Lyft is focusing on people who can walk.
- The capital costs. There’s a question of profitability for Uber and Lyft. Until driverless cars become viable, Uber and Lyft are focusing on large scale use to offset the costs of the driver.
At Gainsberg Law, our Chicago personal injury lawyers understand how important it is for car accident victims and other victims to get competent medical care. We work with numerous doctors and specialists to understand the full extent of your injuries to make sure you get quality care. We demand payment for all your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. To speak with an experienced injury lawyer, please call us at 312.313.1621 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment. We represent clients in Chicago and the nearby counties.