Fort Worth-based MedStar Mobile Healthcare, a mobile ambulance service, has partnered with Lyft to transport low-risk medical patients to hospitals and care sites instead of calling 911 as part of its 911 Nurse Triage Program. MedStar recently switched to Lyft from Yellow Cab this year after patient-experience scores showed taxis were not the most ideal alternate transportation.
According to MedStar, the 911 Nurse Triage program was started in 2012 to help navigate callers in Dallas-Fort Worth for “low-acuity” medical or trauma conditions to settings such as urgent care, primary care, dental care, or even self-care at home.
The program vets patients through an extensive phone assessment by certified emergency medical dispatchers and specialty nurses to determine where they should go to receive treatment and whether they need an ambulance for transport. For non-life-threatening injuries, nurses dispatch a Lyft driver to transport the patient to the needed medical facility.
These efforts save money for patients and allow ambulance services to see patients in need. A MedStar report states “each ambulance dispatch costs approximately $450, while an entire month’s Lyft service costs roughly $430.”
Officials said the collaboration with Lyft is one of the first of its kind in the country. Matt Zavadsky, chief strategic integration officer at MedStar, says that since the program has been implemented, more than 7,200 callers with low-acuity medical complaints have been addressed.
“Of those [7,200], nearly 2,000 were handled in a very patient-centered way, without the need to dispatch an ambulance,” Zavadsky told D CEO Healthcare. “The patients received more personalized care and we kept over 2,500 hours of ambulance time available for higher acuity calls.”
According to Zavadsky, patient satisfaction with the program has been the most surprising. In 2016, 94 percent of callers said the nurses helped treat their problem, and 93 percent of callers said talking to the nurses saved them time and money versus taking an ambulance to the ER. “We have saved the healthcare system $2.9 million so far,” he said.