PHILADELPHIA – The high number of low-income patients missing medical appointments because of unreliable transportation has led to partnerships between health care systems and ridesharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, in an effort to ease travel and boost attendance. However, a new study from Penn Medicine researchers published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that offering a free Lyft ride to Medicaid patients for an upcoming medical appointment did not reduce the rate of missed appointments.

The study, which included nearly 800 West Philadelphians who were patients with Medicaid at one of two Penn Medicine primary care practices, found that the missed appointment rate for those offered a free Lyft ride and those not offered a ride was virtually the same: 36.5 percent vs. 36.7 percent.

The findings suggest that ridesharing – a relatively simple, inexpensive approach to address transportation barriers – may not be the easy fix some believe it to be.

“Transportation is often a barrier to care for many patients, but solutions that don’t address other barriers may not be enough to help patients get to doctor appointments, said Krisda H. Chaiyachati, MD, MPH, a VA advanced fellow at Penn Medicine, and lead author on the study.

“While it may be a negative finding, it’s an important one,” he added, “because it can inform future efforts to help improve attendance rates and highlights the complexity of social barriers when caring for poor patients.”

Read more at EurekAlert