Nearly 4 million people are prevented from getting medical care in the United States each year because of transportation barriers, according to a new guide from the Health Research and Educational Trust. The guide, which offers in-depth information about the urgency and pervasiveness of these barriers, also shows how hospitals have fought to help their patients and communities overcome them. You can access the guide here to read several instructive case studies on how these hospitals and health systems have tackled this problem and to arm yourself with the necessary tools to make a business case for addressing the issue in your own hospital. The guide also contains detailed information about the social factors that are intertwined with this issue.
A few hospitals have already taken steps to remedy their patients’ transportation challenges. For example, Mercy Health System has partnered with Uber to help its patients get to their appointments and also created an integrated patient portal linked with its emergency health record to make the ride-hailing process more seamless for patients. Medstar Health has also partnered with Uber and is working to subsidize rides for its low-income patients. Also in that vein, the Las Vegas Fire and Rescue Department is training its 911 operators to determine whether nonemergency callers might be better off using the ride-hailing service Lyft to get to the hospital instead of an ambulance.
As the HRET guide illustrates, access to transportation can ultimately greatly impact a person’s health and is one of several social factors that do so. For more on other social determinants of health, take a look at H&HN’s social determinants of health series.
For more information on this issue, see our Transportation page with links to H&HN coverage and other AHA resources.