Health impacts of unlimited access to networked transportation in older adults
Background: Transportation barriers in older adults with chronic disease can lead to adverse outcomes like inability to access care and social isolation. Networked transportation can potentially meet this need and impact overall health. However, the lack of familiarity with services and limited use amongst older adults pose potential barriers to adoption.
Methods: The impact of networked transportation on overall health was studied by offering three months of free and unlimited Lyft, Inc. (San Francisco, CA) rides to patients aged 60 years or older with chronic disease and self-reported transportation barriers. Upon enrollment, subjects were provided personalized training on the networked transportation, surveys, and activity trackers (Fitbit, Inc., San Francisco, CA).
Results: Of the 150 subjects, 93% utilized Lyft with 86% using the mobile application (app). The mean number of rides was 69±65 with significantly more rides ordered through the app compared to calling-in (76±67 vs. 24±19, p<.05). Medical appointments accounted for 12% of destinations with remaining rides used for errands, entertainment, social visits, and fitness classes. Daily step counts did not increase with ride use (average steps: 2619±2796 versus 3614±3470, p>.05). Improved quality-of-daily-living was reported in 90% of subjects and 66% reported increased social visits. Upon study completion, 80% of subjects reported they would continue to utilize networked transportation although cost was a main deterrent.
Conclusions: Older adults with chronic disease taught to use networked transportation report less social isolation and increased quality of life. Future studies should utilize economic modeling to assess cost-benefits of networked transportation for older adults.
Saxon L, Ebert R, Sobhani M. Health impacts of unlimited access to networked transportation in older adults. Journal of mHealth. 2019. Available online.