mHealth Intelligence: mHealth Takes on Missed Healthcare Appointments

Healthcare providers are turning to ride-share companies, online platforms and mobile apps to make sure their patients get to and from the hospital or clinic.

Healthcare providers often look at mHealth in terms of bringing healthcare to the patient. But sometimes it’s more important to bring the patient to healthcare.

With an eye to patient engagement and satisfaction, health systems are now employing a number of platforms to help people get to and from the hospital or clinic. Services like Uber, Lyft and RoundTrip give providers the opportunity to help patients with transportation issues and make sure they make their scheduled appointments.

Nemours Children’s Health System recently contracted with RoundTrip, a provider of medical transportation services, to help patients of its Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del. Care coordinators at the hospital can use an online portal to book transportation for patients and their families, map out routes and arrival and departure times, and provide a channel for rating the transportation experience.

“Nemours puts our patients first in everything that we do,” Ed Woomer, the hospital’s administrator for patient and family services, said in a recent release. “We recognize that transportation can be a challenge for our patients and are excited to partner with RoundTrip to simplify this process and provide a better patient experience that extends beyond the duration of their hospital visit.”

There’s a financial angle to this as well. An estimated 3.6 million Americans miss or delay healthcare appointments each year due to transportation issues, including 950,000 children, according to a Transportation Research Board report issued in 2005. That shakes out to about $150 million in wasted healthcare dollars.

In New York, California and Nevada, Lyft is working with the National Medtrans Network to coordinate rides through a Web-based dashboard called Concierge for patients on Medicare, which doesn’t typically cover transportation costs. And Uber is working with a number of health systems, including Florida’s Sarasota Memorial Health System, Hackensakc UMC in New Jersey and Maryland’s MedStar Health.

At Sarasota Health, providers can call up the Uber app on the health system’s Voalte mobile health platform to arrange rides for patients.

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