Quality healthcare relies on patients being able to get to the clinic. According to the National Academy of Sciences, about 3.6 million patients miss medical appointments each year because of transportation barriers. These missed appointments can lead to poor health outcomes, increased emergency department visits and hospitalizations, and lost revenue for health systems.
To help break down transportation barriers, Upstream Health Innovations, the innovation hub of Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) in Minneapolis, created Hitch Health, a ridesharing program for health systems, payers, and patients. Using information from Epic, Hitch Health sends an eligible patient a ride offer via text message. If she accepts, Hitch Health dispatches a Lyft driver on the day of the appointment, and the patient gets a ride to and from her home.
Susan Jepson, vice president of Upstream Health Innovations, says that what sets Hitch Health apart is that patients don’t have to download an application to their phone, and they don’t need a credit card—the health system covers the cost of the ride. Also, the text messages and ride dispatches happen automatically, which means front desk staff don’t have to coordinate transportation.
The goal of Hitch Health is to make getting to the clinic as easy and automated as possible, for both the patient and the clinic staff. Hitch Health went live at one HCMC clinic in June, and they’ve already seen positive results. “When we look at the patients who accept rides and make it to the clinic, about 80% of them had between six and 75 no-shows last year,” Jepson explained. In other words, patients who need this service most are taking advantage of it.
As Hitch Health continues to expand, Jepson has some ideas for more services to provide. “We’re expanding to offer rides with the bus service, wheelchair transport vendors—the whole continuum of access.”
You can find more information on the Hitch Health website.