- Boston-based startup Circulation Health announced a partnership with AI-enabled Buoy Health to help patients access to on-demand transportation.
- Under the arrangement, due to launch later this year, Buoy’s patients will convey their symptoms to an AI health assistant, which will recommend a course of treatment. To help with follow-through, patients can then book on-demand rides through Circulation’s ride-hailing platform.
- Patient no-shows and failure to follow through on treatment plans is a common and costly problem. According to a study published by the National Academy of Sciences, about 3.6 million Americans miss or delay medical care each year due to transportation issues. The problem is particularly acute for low-income people who depend on public transportation.
Launched in 2016, Circulation coordinates nonemergency medical transportation logistics using Lyft and other ride-sharing partners. Last year, the company raised $10.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Flare Capital Partners and The Providence Service Corp.
Patient no-shows come with a big price tag — both for the patient, whose prognosis may worsen without proper care, and for hospitals. A 2016 study found community hospitals experience on average 62 no-shows a day, at an annual cost of $3 million. For teaching hospitals, the rates of no-shows and late arrivals were 25% and 31%, respectively.
To tackle the problem, a growing number of health systems are partnering with rideshare companies to get patients to their appointments. Among them are MedStar Health, which teamed up with Uber, and Cigna-HealthSpring, which uses Lyft for Medicare Advantage patients.
While such services can reduce transport costs (MedStar has reduced NEMT costs to 60% of the cost of a cab), it’s unclear how much they’re affecting no-show rates. A study published earlier this year in JAMA Internal Medicine found no difference in missed appointment rates with patients who were offered ridesharing services versus those who were not.