For some patients and their families, getting to and from medical visits can present a challenge. A lack of reliable transportation can be particularly difficult for children with chronic or medically complex conditions which may require multiple appointments and ongoing care.
At the 2023 Transforming Quality Conference, UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh presented one solution to address these transportation barriers for pediatric patients and their families.
According to hospital data, transportation barriers caused at least 8% of missed specialty care appointments at UPMC Children's. To help more patients access the care they need, UPMC Children’s Community Health partnered with 211 and Lyft to pilot the Ride United program.
211 is a national call center initiative that aims to help the public access health and human services resources. To schedule a ride, patient families dial 211 and follow prompts to schedule transportation with a live resource navigator who sends ride information to the family's cell phone via text message.
The program began in 2019 and offered families in the surrounding county one free Lyft ride to medical appointments scheduled at participating UPMC Children's locations. By 2021, the program had expanded to increase the number of rides available, and patient families now have access to unlimited rides for medical services.
Expanding the program
From January 2021 to September 2022, the program provided 2,342 rides for patients and their families—96% of whom were Medicaid recipients. Throughout the pilot and program expansion, the project team facilitated an ongoing feedback loop between partners and stakeholders, as well as participating in internal and external outreach efforts.
As a result of the program, health care providers noted improved patient experience and satisfaction with care, but there is still more work to do. For the program to expand, it will need sustainable funding and expansion of ride availability to surrounding communities—particularly in rural areas where rideshare services may not be available.