Lyft doubles down on helping patients get rides to the doctor

We took a self-driving Lyft around Vegas
We took a self-driving Lyft around Vegas

Lyft, like Uber, wants to help patients get to and from the doctor.

On Monday, Lyft announced that it has set a goal to cut the so-called health care transportation gap in half by 2020.

Every year, 3.6 million Americans miss medical appointments because they don't have transportation. Missed appointments cost the health care system more than $150 billion a year.

Through Lyft Concierge, a special digital platform Lyft launched in 2016, businesses can schedule rides for individuals. The platform pushes an SMS alert to passengers about the scheduled ride and the business provider typically covers the cost.

Lyft said it counts thousands of health care companies among its partners, including Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Related: Uber Health will get patients to and from the doctor

On Monday, Lyft announced a new partnership with Allscripts, a large electronic health record company that reaches an estimate 7 million patients. Doctors and hospitals that use Allscripts can request Lyft rides for their patients.

Lyft said it will strike new partnerships to meet its goal by 2020. "And soon after, we'll eliminate transportation barriers to health care altogether," Lyft's chief business officer David Baga said.

Two weeks ago, the company announced it is working with Hitch Health, a non-emergency transportation company that identifies patients who may need free rides and sends them SMS texts.

The announcement comes on the heels of rival Uber's launch of Uber Health last Thursday. Uber Health is a similar service to Lyft Concierge that focuses on health care partnerships to reduce transportation hurdles for patients.

In a Medium post about the news, Lyft's Baga stressed twice that Lyft has "spent years working to help solve this problem."

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