Courtesy Ford Motor Company
Every year, about 3.6 million Americans miss medical appointments because they can’t find a ride, costing the health care system more than $150 billion a year.
Ford Motor Co. wants to remove that obstacle by offering a GoRide transportation service as part of its Ford Smart Mobility division, aimed at mostly elderly patients and those in wheelchairs.
The automaker says its GoRide service is already using 15 specially equipped vans to provide trips to more than 200 health care facilities as part of a program with the Beaumont Health Network in the Detroit area.
The GoRide service, which will offer bedside-to-bedside transportation from houses and nursing homes to medical facilities, will grow to 60 vehicles in Michigan by the end of the year. Ford then plans to expand the GoRide service to other cities and health care providers in the coming years, Marion Harris, vice president of Ford’s Mobility Business group, told Reuters.
“You will see further announcements,” he said.
GoRide drivers are not Ford employees but are drivers trained to care for and transport patients requiring nonemergency medical support. They learn how to help patients to and from their home, in and out of the vehicle, and to and from their health care facility. They also are trained to support skilled nursing facilities in need of bedside-to-bedside rides.
Ford isn’t the only company that's gotten into the health care transportation game. Earlier this year, Uber launched a health care ride service designed to efficiently get patients to and from doctor’s appointments and to allow caregivers and medical staff to schedule rides for those they serve.
Health care providers can order the Uber service for patients to and from clinics, rehab center, hospitals and other facilities, even when the riders don’t have a smartphone. The service is not intended as a replacement for emergency vehicles, such as ambulances.
Lyft, too, launched a digital platform so businesses can schedule rides for individuals, in 2016. Earlier this year, Lyft announced a partnership with Allscripts, a massive electronic health record company that serves about 7 million patients. Doctors and hospitals that use Allscripts can order Lyft rides for their patients.
In addition, there are various other services in all parts of the country run by transportation companies and nonprofit organizations. To find a service in your area, use the Eldercare Locator.