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Going to the doctor: Rideshare as nonemergency medical transportation

L. Fraade-Blanar, T. Koo, C.M. Whaley
RAND Corporation

Ridesharing apps have changed how people get around. Its use in nonemergency medical transportation (NEMT) is nascent but possibly growing. The authors of this report build on existing research on health care access to describe NEMT challenges that rideshare-based NEMT (RB-NEMT) may address for those who need NEMT by identifying rider and ride types most appropriate for RB-NEMT. Population estimates for these profiles are drawn from three nationally representative sources.

The authors found that RB-NEMT could help reduce system strain and satisfy an unmet or poorly met need for on-demand cost-effective solutions within the NEMT ecosystem. Current RB-NEMT capabilities are most appropriate for individuals with medical conditions that result in the need to request rides and those who use Door2Door, Curb2Curb, or Area2Area (e.g., bus stop–to–bus stop) services. RB-NEMT is also most appropriate for in-patient and outpatient discharges, on-demand rides, requests for rides in which the scheduled mode failed to arrive, and rides requiring minimal assistance or monitoring.

The authors recommend more research on (1) RB-NEMT outcomes and the efficiency of programs targeting potential users and (2) the size, distribution, and projections for required transportation services, especially for vulnerable populations. The authors argue that policymakers should recognize that (1) transportation is a fundamental component of health care access and NEMT is a central pathway of ensuring access to vulnerable populations and (2) rideshare is a generally unique, economical, efficient, and otherwise unoccupied niche of the NEMT ecosystem, although the specific pathways to incorporating rideshare into NEMT will vary by state.

Fraade-Blanar L, Koo T, Whaley CM. Going to the doctor: rideshare as nonemergency medical transportation. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2021. Available online.

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Social Determinant of Health
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