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Lyft to integrate with Epic, enabling ride scheduling within EHR workflow

The partnership marks another foray for the ride-sharing app into the healthcare sphere, and offers another way for providers to help address patients' social determinants of health.

Published Monday, October 12, 2020
by Kat Jercich

Lyft logo

Ride-sharing app Lyft announced Thursday that it would be integrating with Epic to allow healthcare staff to schedule rides for patients directly from their electronic health record.

According to the company, Lyft for Epic can help providers schedule rides directly from a patient's profile in the EHR. Patients do not need to have access to the app on their phones.

"By teaming up to integrate Lyft into Epic – our established health record system – Ochsner is providing a solution that makes it easier for patients to seek out high quality care when they need it and without unnecessary delays due to a lack of transportation," said Dr. David Carmouche, senior vice president of community care at Ochsner Health, in a statement.  

WHY IT MATTERS  

Proximity to facilities has a major effect on access to healthcare, particularly at a time when many people may not feel safe on public transit because of COVID-19 risks.  

By allowing providers to schedule Lyft rides on behalf of patients, Lyft says it hopes to ensure that transportation is not a barrier to care.  

According to the company, patient and appointment information will prepopulate in the ride request form, leading to improved appointment adherence and shorter waiting times.

The app says that nearly 30% of facilities using Epic for EHR needs already partner with Lyft for nonemergency medical transportation.

Representatives for Lyft said that the health system would pay for the rides they ordered for patients.

Lyft also said in a press statement that it plans to work toward measuring the impact of partnerships like these on population health outcomes, "potentially even tracking patient segments to proactively identify patients that would benefit from a Lyft ride."  

THE LARGER TREND

Lyft's announcement marks the latest foray the ride-sharing app has taken into the healthcare world. In 2018, it integrated with Allscripts' Sunrise EHR to enable clinicians to order nonemergency Lyft rides for patients.   

Meanwhile, Lyft rival Uber partnered with Epic rival Cerner this past year to integrate nonemergency transport into its workflow. The companies have repeatedly touted such initiatives as mechanisms to improve public health and cut down on no-shows. But as Healthcare IT News executive editor Mike Miliard pointed out in 2018, such claims have been met with skepticism.   

A February 2018 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that ride-sharing may not reduce the number of missed medical appointments, Miliard reported.  

"Transportation is often a barrier to care for many patients, but solutions that don't address other barriers may not be enough to help patients get to doctor appointments," said the study's lead author, Dr. Krisda Chaiyachati.  

ON THE RECORD  

The partnership with Epic "will speed up the process to order a Lyft and reduce keyboard time for our team members," said Jason Swoboda, associate director of health innovation and emerging technology at Tampa General, in a statement. "This is a win for both our team members and those we serve, allowing for more valuable time spent with our patients – ultimately impacting quality outcomes which our patients expect."  

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