Uber isn’t the only on-demand ride-hailing service expanding into health care — now, so is its rival, Lyft.
On Tuesday, Lyft announced that it had teamed up with the National Medtrans Network, which arranges non-emergency medical transportation for patients, like taking senior citizens to a checkup. As part of a test program, New Yorkers can now order a Lyft ride for a patient through Concierge, a new website operated by Lyft — no smartphone required.
Lyft is increasingly putting its network of drivers to work in a growing number of areas, from partnering with universities to provide rides for students to taking employees to client meetings. Health care, though, is a new industry for Lyft, and its latest move follows Uber’s decision to hire a head of health care, provide on-demand flu shots, and, yes, take people to non-emergency medical appointments.
Uber far outstrips Lyft when it comes to funding. But one possible advantage of Lyft’s new partnership is that it can tap into the National Medtrans Network’s existing stream of customers. The group is already booking 2,500 of its 25,000 rides a week in New York City through Lyft, according to a statement from Lyft, which also said it plans to expand the service nationwide.
An estimated 3.6 million Americans miss or put off non-emergency medical care each year due to transportation issues, and this group has a higher prevalence of chronic diseases and multiple chronic conditions, according to the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies.
“Working with Lyft, we’re helping patients live healthier lives by providing reliable, enjoyable rides to their appointments,” Billy McKee, president of National Medtrans Network, said in a statement.
Stephanie Lee is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
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