(Austin) – Under a 9-month old partnership between Central Health and Lyft, missed doctor’s appointments are down by one-fourth, and monthly visits by chronically-ill patients have doubled.
Central Health launched the transportation pilot in January 2019 to help patients get to medical appointments. In nine months, the program has provided 2,400 free Lyft rides to more than 400 patients to and from the Central Health Southeast Health & Wellness Center.
“Lack of reliable transportation is one of the biggest barriers preventing people with low income from seeing a doctor,” said Mike Geeslin, President and CEO of Central Health. “It leads to missed appointments, which leads to poorer health and higher health care costs. Giving a person a ride to a clinic has a positive effect on the people we serve.”
Central Health analyzed data and conducted interviews with the clients and medical staff to understand the overall impact of the initiative. The findings for patients who used the service include:
- A 25% decrease in missed appointments,
- Monthly visits for chronic condition patients doubled,
- Approximately 3% of the wellness center’s patient population used the transportation program; and
- Clients used the service to access medical appointments, eligibility services, pharmacy, the Women, Infants & Children (WIC) office, Zumba and cooking classes, and other services available at the wellness center.
“[Before the Lyft pilot], I’d missed several important appointments because I couldn’t get there,” Webberville resident Mary Johnson said. “Now, I make all my appointments. My health has gotten a lot better, my blood pressure’s dropping, and my diabetes is getting better.”
Based on the positive results of the pilot, Central Health is considering extending the pilot in the upcoming year.
“Accessing public transportation is a challenge for some of our patients,” said JP Eichmiller, senior director of strategy and information design at Central Health. “It’s fulfilling to work with our partners to make it easier for our patients to get to a clinic and improve their health in ways they couldn’t before.”
In 2018, Central Health convened a group of local health care, social service, and transportation providers to discuss opportunities to align health care needs for people with low-income with innovative transportation options. The group works to identify and address conditions outside the clinic that affect a person’s health, like housing, access to healthy food, education, and unemployment identified through the Austin/Travis County Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), discuss funding opportunities, and share updates on current transportation initiatives in the community.
Central Health provided $50,000 to cover the costs of the pilot through Sept. 30. As of Sept. 1, the pilot had provided 2,460 rides at a total cost of $ $37,661, averaging $15.31 per ride.
For more information about the Lyft transportation pilot, visit: https://www.centralhealth.net/central-health-offering-patients-free-lyfts-to-medical-appointments/