Henry Ford Health partners with SPLT, Lyft to get patients to their appointments
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Improving health-care outcomes can sometimes simply mean getting patients to their appointments.
Last month, Henry Ford Health System launched a pilot project with Detroit-based startup SPLT and the ride-hailing company Lyft in hopes of doing just that.
The health system has partnered with the two services in an effort to get patients in the hospital’s dialysis access center to their appointments. The health system uses the SPLT scheduling platform to coordinate trips to the hospital on Grand Boulevard in Detroit.
Michele Richards, director of patient care management and assistance at Henry Ford, said the hospital is trying to meet a need because some patients have trouble getting reliable transportation.
“One of the social determinants of health is transportation inequity. We’re trying to address that transportation inequity for our patients,” Richards said.
The effort is an attempt to fix a problem that is exacerbated in the Detroit area by a subpar public transportation system.
“We know that transportation is one of the largest challenges for some of our patients. This challenge is more pronounced in a city that lacks a strong public transportation system,” Richards said. “Many of our patients also face housing insecurity, food insecurity … job insecurity and fluctuating health coverage.”
In 2016, the hospital system had 246 instances of patients not making it to their appointments. Through May of last year — the latest data Richards could supply — the dialysis access center had 130 no shows, and 11% of its total scheduled visits for the year were no shows.
Richards noted that the Henry Ford Medical Group as a whole has seen increases in no shows, from 162,741 in 2016 to 173,472 last year.
A spokeswoman for SPLT provided information showing that 3.6 million Americans miss or delay medical care each year because of transportation issues.
The hospital system chose to focus on the dialysis patients because they have a “high enough” rate of no shows, and Richards said many of those patients say the reason is a lack of transportation. Dialysis patients also need to make it to their appointments. They are typically on a three-visit per week schedule, and if they miss two, they are likely to end up in the emergency room.
Dialysis patients are suffering kidney failure, typically from diabetes or high blood pressure. The treatments filter the blood, doing the work of kidneys.
The 45-day pilot project, which could be expanded to a total of 90 days, offers Henry Ford the ability to handle its patient transport in a coordinated fashion rather than paying for options such as individual taxis. SPLT provides the scheduling platform and Lyft provides the rides. For patients who use a wheelchair, the hospital is using a separate service, Signature Transportation.
The pilot project was limited to a specific number of patients — 25 — so the program’s success could be proven, according to Richards, and the hospital has a goal of keeping the cost under $2,000. So far, the response from patients has been positive, she said.
For SPLT, the Henry Ford project represents a second health-care non-emergency medical transportation partnership. The company also launched a service in Philadelphia, but has a nondisclosure agreement there.
The company, which was founded in 2015, was acquired last month by German auto supplier Bosch for an undisclosed price. SPLT co-founder Anya Babbitt said the company will maintain a base of operations in Detroit, but is expanding in areas such as California, Chicago, the U.S. Southeast, Germany and London.
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SPLT, which has 25 workers, came to Detroit through Techstars Mobility, which helps fund and grow startups, especially in transportation-related fields.
Although SPLT sees major opportunities in non-emergency medical transport, the company’s primary service involves connecting commuters, approximately 140,000 in the United States, Mexico and Germany.
“SPLT operates a platform that allows companies, universities and municipal authorities to offer their workforces ridesharing services,” according to a news release. “SPLT uses an app to connect people who share the same route to their place of work or study. An algorithm finds the best composition for the ride-share, and computes the fastest route. The aim is to reduce congestion and make the daily commute more relaxed.”
The idea was born before ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft were ubiquitous when people would line up to share taxis in New York.
Babbitt has big ambitions for SPLT:
“We want to fundamentally change the way people meet and move from A to B by making sustainable, affordable mobility possible. We believe working with
Bosch gives us an excellent opportunity to achieve this goal.”
As part of its acquisition of SPLT, Bosch also announced it was launching a Connected Mobility Solutions division 600 employees to develop and sell digital mobility services.
Its new Connected Mobility Solutions division will bring together more than 600 associates to develop and sell digital mobility services. These include vehicle sharing, ridesharing and connectivity-based services for car drivers. The company cited statistics showing that by 2025 more than 470 million connected vehicles would be on the roads.
“Connected driving is a growth area for Bosch. Bosch aims for significant double-digit growth with the solutions it offers,” said Volkmar Denner, chairman of the Bosch board of management, in a news release.
Contact Eric D. Lawrence: email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @_ericdlawrence.
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