CommonSpirit partners with Lyft, creates strategic innovation taskforce to boost transportation

Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health and LogistiCare Circulation, a tech-enabled manager of non-emergency medical transportation, partnered with Lyft to improve patient transportation across the health system's locations in 21 states.

Through the partnership, announced on Jan. 29, Lyft will provide on-demand transportation for patients who are discharged from the hospital without access to other forms of reliable transportation. Social workers, case managers and other medical staff can request the rides and monitor them in real-time by connecting directly to the driver during the ride if necessary through LogistiCare's platform. CommonSpirit foots the bill for those in need, as the health system serves a diverse patient population including homeless patients.

"This is our community benefit," said Christine Brocato, system vice president for strategic innovation at CommonSpirit. "We are providing free rides to patients that don't have the financial means to afford it otherwise. From the hospital perspective, a lot of the work on this partnership was around the operational and compliance department to build the policies and procedures to understand how to deliver the transportation, standardize the process and make sure it's equitable with respects to which patients receive the benefit. Learning to use the technology was the easy part. The biggest piece of this work has been being really thoughtful about creating policies and procedures to make this happen in a standardized way."

Ms. Brocato said the health system is always looking for ways to improve the patient experience, eliminate administrative burden for staff and enhance care delivery models. The partnership with Lyft and LogistiCare hits all three goals. In the past, CommonSpirit had used taxis to transport patients in need home from the hospital.

"That was fairly inconvenient for the patients because the taxis weren't always reliable, there were long wait times, and in some cases they weren't showing up," said Ms. Brocato. "It's hard for our staff to plan a discharge in that scenario, and there was a lack of ability to provide oversight for the ride. It was a black box; we didn't know where our patients were dropped off and when we received the bill, we didn't know what ride we were paying for. Under this new partnership, we can expect a reliable ride that we can monitor through the LogistiCare platform."

The health system piloted the rideshare program in Phoenix and has already provided 450 rides for patients with positive feedback. She also reported a savings of around 35 percent to 65 percent on the cost of transportation after switching from taxis to Lyft. CommonSpirit aims to expand the transportation service to patients to additional markets this year, and additional use cases in the future.

"Patient discharge was a logical place to start the relationship. But we are also thinking about how to help CommonSpirit develop a way to transfer patients between care settings," said Megan Callahan, vice president of healthcare at Lyft. "The innovations team at CommonSpirit is excellent. They have done a lot of interesting things around social determinants of health and made a commitment to doing new things for patients. They have been a frontrunner around partnerships like this one. Their mission also aligns with Lyft because we want to improve peoples' lives through transportation."

Beyond the initial rideshare services, the partners are also creating a strategic innovation taskforce to co-develop and test new uses for the transportation service. Lyft also has partnerships with several other large health systems in the U.S., including St. Louis-based Ascension, Sacramento, Calif.-based Sutter and NewYork-Presbyterian.

"Our ecosystem really allows health systems to create a managed transportation department for the patient experience and mitigate the risk of missing appointments," said Ms. Callahan. "Going forward, the strategy is about simplifying access to care and improving access to care. Transportation is a conduit to improving the social determinants of health whether it's to medical appointments, the grocery store, access to jobs or community events and other things that support their health."

Oakland, Calif.-based Alameda Health System's Highland Hospital that works with Lyft has already shown a 73 percent reduction in no-shows for appointments, realizing around $400,000 in annual health savings for the systems. The system also reported a 50 percent reduction in emergency room diversion rates last year.

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