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Lyft, Oak Street Health Launch Indianapolis Initiative

Analysis  |  By Jack O'Brien  
   March 25, 2019

The ridesharing giant is teaming up with Oak Street Health to provide additional transportation options for Medicare recipients.

Oak Street Health and Lyft are embarking on a partnership aimed at reducing barriers to healthcare access through a transportation venture, the company announced Monday morning. 

Expanding on a pilot program that began last September, the ridesharing giant is furthering its relationship with the Indianapolis-based primary care provider to service its Medicare population.

While Oak Street Health maintains its own complimentary green van services, paid for through its value-based arrangements, COO Geoff Price told HealthLeaders that transportation remains a challenge for the older adult population served by the organization.

Price said that Oak Street Health reached out to Lyft last year for assistance in providing solutions to the growing transportation demands of their patients.

In order to streamline the growing patient demand, Oak Street Health employees can now schedule rides through the Lyft app at the company's four locations in Indianapolis, including Glendale, Irivington, Speedway, and University Heights.

"Our patients have had positive feedback on Lyft, they like our transportation services in general but they have taken to Lyft," Price said. "Whenever our patients are utilizing transportation, that means they're coming in to see their physician, they're more adherent to their care plans and ultimately, that can help keep them healthy and keep them out of the hospital."

Lyft was not available for comment but did echo Price's sentiments in the joint press statement released Monday.

“At Lyft, we're focused on improving people's lives with the world's best transportation, as well as reducing the healthcare transportation gap,” Cebronica Luft, market manager of Lyft Indianapolis, said in a statement. “To help further this commitment, we're thrilled to partner with Oak Street Health, making it easier for the seniors of Indianapolis to receive the quality healthcare they deserve without transportation as a barrier.”

The partnership with Oak Street Health is in line with Lyft's burgeoning business strategy aimed at growing in the healthcare space.

Earlier this month, the company submitted its S-1 form to the Securities and Exchange Commission ahead of its upcoming initial public offering.

The document is littered with references to Lyft's healthcare ambitions, including the risks and opportunities related to such an effort. One area that Lyft cited as a force of positive momentum were the existing relationships the company has with health systems, hospitals, and transportation network companies. 

Related: Healthcare Ridesharing Activity Surges; Focuses on Improving Care, Reducing Costs

While Oak Street Health and Lyft have indicated that streamlining transportation services has benefitted patients, a JAMA study from February 2018 contests the link between providing rides and improved outcomes.

The study, which provided free Lyft rides to patients with Medicaid, there was not a significant difference in the missed appointment rate compared to the control group.

Nearby public transportation options, along with unfamiliarity regarding ridesharing services were cited as potential factors, though Lyft argued that its data shows increased customer satisfaction and decreased wait times.

Related: Healthcare Ridesharing Makes Inroads in Lost Revenue

Price said Oak Street Health will continue to evaluate initiatives that can reduce the barriers to care for the organization's patients but also reduce overhead costs for the company as well.

He stated that one of the highlights about using Lyft was its, allowing Oak Street Health to purchase a ride rather than a vehicle to transport a patient to and from an appointment.

Price said the organization is keeping a close eye on if it starts relying more on Lyft than its own green vans for transporting patients and if they continue to embrace the service over other options.

Jack O'Brien is the Content Team Lead and Finance Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.

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