COVID Changed Many, but Not All, Medical Experiences
As our culture reacted to the novel Coronavirus, medical services responded. In late March, the US government lifted restrictions to telemedicine, allowing more than 80 additional services to be administered remotely. In the first two weeks of April, overall patient volume decreased by 41%. Statistics vary, but all agree, telehealth skyrocketed at the same time.
But, meeting with a medical professional over the internet doesn’t take care of all medical needs. We still need X-rays and other diagnostic tests. We still need to get our teeth cleaned. And, we still need to get home from the hospital.
Lyft, who was already working with hospitals and other medical providers to help transport patients to and from appointments, finalized their integration into Epic, the leading electronic health records (EHR) and scheduling tool.
Transportation is one of the three most difficult challenges faced by many in the US when seeking healthcare. (See graphic for a fuller picture.)
- Can I get childcare for my children while I go to the doctor or hospital?
- How will I afford the medical procedures and/or equipment?
- How can I travel to my doctor or hospital?
In the past, patients without personal transportation have relied on rides from friends and family, taking the bus, subway, or another form of public transportation, or taxis. When rideshare came on the scene, adoption was spotty. Many that needed help with transportation didn’t have the money for the smartphone needed to request rideshare.
Lyft is working to reduce that problem. Since 2016, Lyft has been working with hospitals and health systems to provide non-emergency transportation. Now, in 2020 they’ve created an integration to Epic, the leading electronic health record system used in the largest hospitals and health organizations in the US. Their Lyft Concierge platform, which is a browser-based way of booking rides for others as opposed to the individual method on a smartphone. Lyft Concierge can now be launched directly from the patient record in Epic.
This integration allows for health providers to make sure their patients can get to and from appointments safely and without hassle. The integration allows those working with patients to:
- Be prompted that a patient may need transportation assistance
- Offer the patient assistance on his or her terms
- Schedule the rideshare
- Track the rideshare
What are the Benefits?
So, does it work? Denver Health and Hospital Authority was an early adopter of Lyft Concierge when it came on the market in 2016. Lyft reached out to them about the Epic integration and they will be one of the first to implement it systemwide.
Amy Friedman, Chief Experience Officer for Denver Health, is excited about the opportunity. She said there is a beauty to the Lyft/Epic integration.
“We can see the needs of a patient in the chart notes. The provider will be able to see clearly that a patient had trouble getting a ride last time. That will allow the provider to bring it up gently. ‘Hey, I noticed that we ordered a Lyft for you last time. Do you think you can make it to the imaging center for your Xray this time?’”
Friedman noted that the integration will be valuable to providers. “Right now, it’s not abundantly clear that a patient has a transportation challenge.” Providers may not be adding transportation information to the patient record because those discussions happen with a nurse, care navigator, or social worker. Notes are not always made.
Over the long haul, the data will make transportation easier for patients. Friedman pointed out that statistics in Epic will help doctors and medical systems communicate with municipalities about where there are holes in bus and subway service. “We now have a way of capturing that there is a need here or there. We can actually break this down by neighborhood or ZIP code. We can actually be able to report about transportation issues in a particular part of the city, and then work with other resources that provide public services there.”
Lyft’s Non-Emergency Medical Transport (NEMT) service has already provided a 44% increase in attendance to primary medical provider visits. Lyft’s research expects a 27% reduction in no-shows.
Secrets to Integration
Denver Health is testing the Lyft/Epic integration no earlier than December in a single clinic where providers have been using Lyft Concierge already. They plan to identify the issues—including how the system is communicated to healthcare workers and patients—then codify the processes to roll out systemwide in early 2021. Their earlier use of Lyft has demonstrated some unusual benefits to the use of the product.
As you seek to integrate your solution with another, keep on the lookout for the extras that you’re not expecting. Make sure to ask questions of your beta testers and, if possible, the end users to find as many ways the integration brings value.
“We serve a vulnerable population,” said Friedman, “Having us manage the technology for them is what makes it successful.”
Other ways that the Lyft/Epic integration is expected to benefit all:
- Patients are thrilled to get home quickly and safely
- They don’t have to wait for family/friends to get off of work; no long periods of idle time in waiting rooms
- Drivers provide more personal care than public transportation can
- Connecting with the patient prior to and after transportation gives more touchpoints for the medical provider with the patient increasing the level of care
“Sometimes, we have been surprised and happy to discover that the driver speaks the same language as our patient and is personally familiar with the area,” remarked Friedman.
There are already natural overlaps from your solution to the one you want to integrate with. For Lyft, 30% of Epic-installed hospitals already used Lyft’s NEMT.
Integrations Can Cause Challenges, Too
While change may be inevitable, users are set in their ways.
For those already using Lyft Concierge, they may choose to book a ride outside of the integration because of past experience. Even users familiar with both tools will need communication and training to make the most of the connection.
Denver Health providers found Lyft’s speed to be fascinating. Early on, the driver would arrive but the patient had stepped down the hallway to grab a sandwich. Lyft is so much faster than past solutions that providers now need to connect with patients to make sure they are ready to leave the facility.
Lyft tracked the wait time for patients. Their NEMT program reduces it from 28 minutes to 7 minutes.
Be sure to look for regional differences as well as you experiment with your integration.
Some cities are not like New York or LA. They don't have cabs on every street corner.
Are there serendipities you’re not expecting?
Denver's physical set up brought a unique opportunity to the larger Lyft/Epic partnership. Lyft picks up at the main hospital near a large bank of windows. Front desk staff can see the vehicles arrive increasing providers’ ability to communicate with patients and improving care. Friedman said, “They can literally see the car driving up. They can say to the patient, ‘There’s your blue Prius.'” This observation has helped other clinics and hospitals think through their Lyft programs and consider the physical layout of how they will provide transportation.
What Could an Integration Do for Your SaaS Company and Integration Partner?
Lyft found a new way to be introduced to a new customer base. They will try to promote brand loyalty and repeat visits.
Health providers found a new way to serve their patients, provide better care, and improve quality of life.
Epic facilitates the advantages for both and wins by making their system more convenient and more powerful for its users.
The First Thing to Do After Reading this Article
Gather a few team members from product, sales, customer care, the SDR team, and of course your marketing team together. Spend 15-minutes together on a Zoom call or a stand up meeting to brainstorm ways your SaaS solution could intersect and be integrated with other products for a win-win.