Free Ride-hailing Doesn't Improve Attendance, Study Claims

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  • February 9, 2018
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Free Ride-hailing Doesn't Improve Attendance, Study Claims

You may want to put the brakes on calling ride-hailing services to assure Medicaid patients show up for appointments. Free rides may not improve patients’ appointment attendance, a recent study indicates.
A study recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that 36.5 percent of patients offered complimentary ride-hailing services missed their appointments compared to 36.7 percent of those who weren’t offered the benefit who missed appointments.

Philly Ride-hailing Study

The study was designed so that 786 Philadelphia-area patients received automated appointment phone call reminders. Patients received three additional appointment reminder phone calls from research staff two days before their appointments. During these calls patients, patients in the intervention side were offered complimentary ride sharing services, which staff scheduled. Patients contacted research staff to get a ride home. Not all patients took advantage of the offer, with 26 percentage using ride sharing.

Industry Enthusiasm for Free Ride-hailing

This data, which the researchers admit needs corroboration, presents a speed bump to efforts to set up free ride-sharing programs for patients.
In 2016, Fierce Healthcare reported MedStar Health partnered with Uber to help link patients to ride sharing to and from medical appointments.
Last year, Lyft paired with AARP, USC, and UnitedHealth Care, launched a study of a program for patients over 60-years-old to see if free rides affected patients’ quality of life, health, and appointment follow-up. In the study patients could request rides either through a ride-hailing app or phone based concierge service. Patients wear activity trackers on their wrists during the three month study.
Also last year Blue Cross Blue Shield announced a similar partnership with Lyft to transport patients living in areas with no reliable transportation alternatives.

Brad Ericson
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Brad Ericson, MPC, CPC, COSC, is a seasoned healthcare writer and editor. He directed publishing at AAPC for nearly 12 years and worked at Ingenix for 13 years and Aetna Health Plans prior to that. He has been writing and publishing about healthcare since 1979. He received his Bachelor's in Journalism from Idaho State University and his Master's of Professional Communication degree from Westminster College of Salt Lake City.

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