Hackensack Meridian Health is expanding its use of ride-sharing platforms to ensure patients with transportation issues stop missing their appointments, officials announced Wednesday at an annual event.
It is now adding Lyft to the system — adopting a program that its newest acquisition, JFK Health, had in place.
In fact, the new, first-in-the-nation centralized transportation command center will be housed at JFK’s EMS digitalized center in Edison.
JFK used tracking technology to increase its EMS response times and more efficiently utilize its ambulances — including allowing them to run errands for other hospitals, such as transporting blood or organs, if there was significant downtime.
JFK was able to reduce transportation costs by 25 percent in three months when it began its partnership with Lyft, according to Hackensack.
Co-CEOs Robert Garrett and John Lloyd announced the consolidated command center, to be used for on-demand, non-emergency medical transportation, to the crowd at Park Chateau Estate in East Brunswick.
Lyft’s New Jersey general manager, Ann Ferracane, said, “We are excited to partner with Hackensack Meridian Health to help them leverage ride-sharing as a transportation solution as they expand their network to provide patients with greater access to the full continuum of care.”
To expand the program, all 16 hospitals within the system will be digitally mapped, and drop-off and pick-up points will be created, Lloyd said.
This will replace the need for the hospitals to use taxi vouchers, and lets the hospitals monitor and keep better track of the flow of patients, and cost to the system for, using the services.
“Transportation issues should not prevent anyone from getting to or from a doctor’s appointment,” Garrett said. “Our centralized ride-share command center allows us to interact often with patients, especially those with chronic diseases, to drive better health outcomes.”
A study from the Washington, D.C.-based Community Transportation Association showed 3.6 million patients miss or arrive late for medical appointments each year due to inadequate access to transportation, according to Hackensack.
And, as more health systems focus on how to serve all socioeconomic levels in their community better, known as population health, helping to solve the transportation barrier contributes to that mission. Creating a central operation for the entire system helps streamline scheduling rides, as well as allows a bird’s-eye view of data collected throughout the system.
“We do all we can to eliminate barriers to and enhance the patient experience,’’ Lloyd said. “The collaboration with Lyft represents the continuing evolution of Hackensack Meridian Health’s contribution to improving access to care for the people we serve.”