Hitch Health has partnered with Lyft, a ride-sharing service provider. Initially, the service will be available for appointments at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey at University Hospital, or at Internal Medicine or Pediatric Medicine in the Ambulatory Care Center (ACC), but further expansion is expected.
Hitch Health is an innovative software product that integrates Electronic Health Records (EHR) and appointment systems with ride services such as Lyft to remove transportation barriers for patients and reduce no show-rates for hospital appointments.
The partnership with Hitch Health is part of the hospital’s recently launched Community Health Program, which is focused on improving access to primary and preventative care services.
“Our partnership with Hitch Health is one important step that the hospital is taking to remove structural barriers that prevent Newark residents from accessing high-quality health care,” said Dr. Shereef Elnahal, president and CEO of University Hospital.
“We know that our patients’ health outcomes can hinge on whether they’re able to get a safe ride to and from their appointments. That’s because transportation can often be the difference between seeing a doctor and going without much-needed services — only to find folks at the doorsteps of our emergency room down the road. Our community needs more safe and reliable transportation options—and we’re privileged to provide that to many of them at no cost,” Elnahal said.
Hitch Health will partner with Lyft to provide patients with rides to and from the hospital that are coordinated through HIPAA-compliant SMS texts, so patients do not need to have a smartphone or the Lyft application to coordinate rides. Hitch Health automatically sends eligible patients information via text, and patients are able to reply back if they are in need of transportation.
After a patient accepts a ride, Hitch Health will dispatch the ride on the day of the appointment. Following their appointment, patients have the option to text “ready” to the same number when they are ready to go home, and a ride will be immediately dispatched to pick them up from the ACC.
Hitch Health ensures patient confidentiality as Lyft drivers will not be able to distinguish a ride arranged by Hitch Health or a ride scheduled through the publicly available application. Patients also have access to the multilingual Hitch Call Center at 1-855-744-0014 for assistance with the service.
“Too often in urban, rural and many communities that face transit-oriented barriers, residents may have complications in urgent travel to the hospitals or clinics,” said Ras Baraka, Mayor of the City of Newark.
According to University Hospital, each year across the country, 3.6 million individuals do not access needed medical care because of transportation barriers, with these barriers causing patients to miss appointments at rates reaching as high as 30 percent.