Lyft helping seniors get to the doctor without an app

Ronny Kerr · January 13, 2016 · Short URL:

Popular ridesharing company partners with National MedTrans Network to help seniors in New York

If you’re a senior living in New York City with a doctor’s appointment today, you may be headed to the doctor’s office in a Lyft. And you won’t even have to open up the app to hail one.

Lyft this week announced that it has partnered with the National MedTrans Network (NMN), a private transportation provider, to help seniors get rides to their non-emergency medical appointments.

Founded in 2005, NMN is a national provider of non-emergency medical transportation, today managing over 10,000 vehicles, modes of transportation from taxis and wheelchair van to non-emergency ambulances, and millions of trips annually for clients and members. Approximately 3.6 million Americans miss or delay their appointments due to transportation issues, according to a Community Transportation Association report cited by Lyft.

The problem looms even larger for seniors, who may not be able to drive or have difficulty taking public transportation. And, in New York City, where cars are even more scarce and the public options are even more daunting, the problem is bigger still.

In New York, Lyft will be helping NMN fulfill 2,500 rides weekly, or 130,000 yearly, ultimately reducing wait times in the office and the number of missed doctor’s appointments. But that number could grow by 10X:

“Using transportation-as-a-service like this, the health plans and government agencies we partner with are significantly reducing fraud, saving costs, and improving the patient experience,” said Billy McKee, President of National Medtrans Network. “We provide over 25,000 livery trips per week in NYC, and our goal is to push all of those through Lyft.”

The partnership will be a pilot test for Lyft and NMN in New York. Assuming all goes well, we could see the two expanding the service to other regions where NMN currently operates, including California and Florida.

Because more than a quarter of American seniors (aged 65 and up) don’t own smartphones, according to Lyft, one key aspect of the new partnership is that the rides come without the patient ever having to pull up an app. The company’s Lyft for Work team launched Concierge expressly to solve this problem, allowing their partners at NMN to request a ride for the patient through the Lyft platform.

All the system needs is the passenger’s name along with their pickup and drop-off locations, and Lyft handles the rest. It’s a pretty nifty solution to a real problem, and I could see Concierge expanded to other uses as well.

Some groups have criticized Uber and Lyft for skirting taxi laws that require a certain number of vehicles to serve the disabled, but it’s steps like Lyft’s latest that show promise for the companies to help seniors and the disabled get around town.

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