BCBS and Lyft team up to reduce patient no-shows

Dive Brief:

  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield is partnering with rideshare company Lyft to help cut down on missed healthcare appointments.
  • Over the next several months, BCBS will offer Lyft services as part of a new service delivery model for select Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies aimed at reducing missed appointments for nonemergency care in areas that lack adequate transportation options. The service will be free to members.
  • By matching health experience data of its 106 million members with local transportation, nutrition and other data, the partnership can pinpoint ZIP codes where Lyft rides could help impact population health, BCBS said Wednesday. 

Dive Insight:

Despite millions of people having health insurance (for now) under the Affordable Care Act, many still face barriers to access due to lack of transportation. According tot he Community Transportation Association of America, about 3.6 million patients miss medical appointments each year because of transportation issues. A study by BMC Health Services found the average daily no-show rate at community hospitals was 62 appointments — at an annual cost of $3 million.

The BCBS-Lyft partnership is the first nationwide ridesharing collaboration with a major health insurer, but not the first attempt at marrying them.

Some health systems have been partnering directly with rideshare companies to address the problem. Last year, HackensackUMC in Bergen County, New York, teamed up with Uber to reduce its no-shows and late arrivals. Medstar Health, which serves the Washington, D.C. region, also began using Uber to ferry its neediest patients to and from appointments.

In December, care coordination platform CareLinx began offering Lyft ridesharing services through its mobile app. The feature allows Carelinx users to schedules rides to doctor appointments, visit friends and run errands with assistance from a professional caregiver.

The federal government spends roughly $2.7 billion on nonemergency medical transportation — costs that rideshare programs could help to rein in, according to an opinion piece last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association. For instance, nearly 70% of commercial Medicare Advantage enrollees receive rides for nonemergency medical visits. However, a government report found numerous problems with existing Medicare and Medicaid ride services — from rising costs to program integrity and vendor oversight.

Filed Under: Health IT Payer