Partners HealthCare have announced an agreement with Circulation to provide transportation logistics options for its patients. The agreement, announced in June of this year, also involves partners including ridesharing service Lyft.
The companies highlight a lack of transportation as a significant barrier to healthcare for many Americans. The move represents an effort to make healthcare more accessible, and Gyre Renwick, VP of Lyft Business, says the partners are committed to reducing the barrier’s effect by 50% by the year 2020.
The agreement is also the first time healthcare giant Partners Healthcare has undertaken a venture with an early stage company.
Founded in 1994, Partners HealthCare is a Boston-based non-profit hospital and physicians network. The company’s network includes two of the US’ most-reputed teaching hospitals, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.
In addition to the two academic medical facilities, the Partners network consists of a managed care organization, a physician network, community health centers, home health and long-term care services, and other entities.
According to The Boston Globe, by 2008, Partners became Massachusetts’ “largest private employer and its biggest healthcare provider, treating more than a third of hospital patients in the Boston metropolitan area”.
An early-stage venture, Circulation Health was founded in 2016 and is also based in Boston.
The startup improves care by providing patients access to convenient, cost-effective, safe and reliable rides. The service is proven to save health services revenue by reducing patient no-shows, and works with health clinics and hospitals to make appointments and discharge more efficient.
Transporting people to and from medical facilities involves more than simply cars and drivers, however. “It’s more than just pick up and drop off”, according to Ken Dychtwald, founder and Chief Executive of Age Wave, a consulting firm that deals with age-related issues in society.
Circulation Health is able to accommodate people who need wheelchairs, are too frail for regular taxi services, and handle the red tape required to provide extra accommodations in transit.
Circulation has raised over $10 million in funding.
Why the Partnership is Important
The agreement represents a significant improvement to healthcare systems.
According to an SCI Solutions report, as many as 30% of patients skip doctor’s appointments – and transportation is a significant cause of this statistic. According to the National Academy of Sciences, each year, 4 million Americans miss out on care because of transportation barriers.
“I saw patients giving up – simply not going to their doctor anymore because they felt the ride was really a burden to them”, says Mark Switaj, founder of Roundtrip, a company that offers similar services to that of Circulation Health.
“We’ve found that patients at city hospitals rely heavily on outside transportation,” says Caitlin Donovan, COO of Circulation. “What’s really great about our platform is that if you’re a patient you can have a nurse or care manager call a ride for you and book on your behalf. We make it really easy to get to your appointments and to know when you’re getting there and you’ll get where you need to be when you need to be there.”
The partnership will also likely mean financial benefit for the Partners HealthCare Network.
According to the SCI Solutions report, no-shows cost the healthcare industry $150 billion annually, and unused time slots cost doctors an average of $200. Circulation claims to reduce these no-shows by 68%, positively impacting healthcare networks.
The Bottom Line
Ridesharing represents a positive step for the healthcare industry.
Not only does ridesharing improve convenience for those in need of medical services, it also reduces costs for healthcare networks – which can now move away from expensive transportation options.
Circulation is now used by over 2500 health facilities in over 40 states in the United States.
To read more about how large players are in the healthcare are working with startups, read here.