Lyft's partnership with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association could include efforts to address nutritional deficits in food deserts, helping patients stay on a specific diet and other use cases.
Lyft thinks of the focus as part of its commitment to address social determinants of health, Gyre Renwick, vice president for Lyft Business said at a midday HIMSS panel in Orlando, Florida. Currently, about a third of Lyft riders use the app to get to their medical appointments on time.
Specific nutrition initiatives are far from finalized, Renwick told Healthcare Dive, as Lyft is currently working on expanding and streamlining its existing focus on patient transportation.
As the industry forays ever closer to recognizing the importance of SDOH, a lot of companies are seeking out ways they can capitalize. Transportation is one of the most logical first steps, and once that's more commonplace, addressing food disparities could be next.
"We really want to look at it from a holistic standpoint," Trent Haywood, SVP & CMO for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, said at the talk. BCBSA, which has three dozen member companies covering more than 100 million members, first linked with Lyft in 2017 to increase healthcare access in transportation deserts.
"We're pretty aggressive about nutrition," Haywood said. "With the right partners, we can also solve those infrastructure issues around food."
Renwick noted that Lyft currently covers about 95% of the population with ETAs of five minutes on average and an almost 98% member satisfaction rate.
"In terms of healthy foods, we could get those literally to your doorstep," Haywood said. "We think Lyft would be a great partner with us in that delivery model, figuring out how to drive prices down and the logistical components of that."
Allscripts CEO Paul Black told Healthcare Dive nutrition is "one of the next biggest determinants." Lyft and Allscripts joined forced last year to develop Concierge API, a health IT platform to allow providers to offer non-emergency transportation to patients.
But it's not something people should expect to see immediately, as Lyft is "still very much in the expansion phase right now" and focusing on solidifying its footprint in the space, Renwick told Healthcare Dive.
Other SDOH the industry could combat in the near future include fitness and social isolation, the executives said, but it's imperative any potential solutions don't add more burden on providers and remain a satisfactory experience for the consumer.
Throughout last year, CMS allowed more nonmedical benefits in Medicare Advantage plans to help tackle SDOH, including meal delivery and transportation.
"The industry is moving this way," Haywood said. "Pretty much by this time next year, when we come back here next year, you will probably not have a Medicare Advantage plan that doesn't include transportation."
Correction: A prior version of this article misattributed a quote to Lyft's Gyre Renwick and mischaracterized some of Lyft's food delivery efforts.