Getting to a health check-up should be easy. Drive a car, take a train or bus, or get a friend to give you a ride, and you can be at an appointment on time.
But one impediment for some is accessing transportation to get to the appointment on time. Almost 3.6 million patients across the USA miss at least one appointment due to lack of access to transportation. And even when patients have access to that transportation through a taxi voucher or through a Medicare or Medicaid travel broker, it can be both inefficient and expensive. Some estimate that using vouchers or brokers costs up to ten times as much as a normal ride share, and patients have reported having to wait for hours for the vehicle to show up.
Circulation, a Boston based start-up, aims to change that. Circulation works using a cloud based website with logins for each patient. The patient can either use the web browser to schedule a ride to and from a hospital or they can call over the phone if they’re not as technologically inclined. While they don’t have an app yet “we’re now building a consumer app” said Robin Heffernan, CEO and Co-Founder of Circulation.
Heffernan says Circulation is trying “to create something that is not just a better mousetrap for the rides that are happening today via taxi voucher.”
And according to Circulation, utilizing ride sharing has massive benefits. Patients who use ride sharing save 70 percent on ride sharing costs, a 95 percent arrive on-time to appointments. Only eight percent of riders fail to show up to their appointments, much lower than the 20-25 percent average in the industry.
Duncan Reece, vice president and of Iora Health, a Boston-based startup focusing on value-based care initiatives by eliminating traditional barriers through relationship building, has been using Circulation in a pilot program. Reece says the short-term results have been beneficial: “While the pilot has been operating for just two months, the results are encouraging on a number of levels.” In addition to improving patient experience, he says that 90% of rides arrive on time and that he efficiency of ride coordination has improved by over 50%
The price for a ride according to Heffernan “is about $14, which is about a 7 mile ride. Uber on average is $2 a mile.”
Circulation also has plans to expand from just Uber as its ride share service as well. This involves “a very broad exchange,” of vehicles, from having rideshare company Lyft added, to coordinating with Medicare for shuttle services.
Heffernan compared the Circulation model to Expedia and other websites that price-compare flights and hotels for consumers. “Our perspective is, what’s really ripe for disruption is not necessarily just better services or better patient experiences” Heffernan said.
Julia is a 2015 graduate of Mount Holyoke College, where she studied Psychology and Linguistics. Outside her work at MedTech Boston, she can be found playing ice hockey, cooking, and exploring the DC Metro area. Find her on Twitter @jkitsjulia
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