Ascension has partnered with Lyft to ensure that a ride is always available for patients, the companies announced Tuesday.
Ascension, the nation's largest not-for-profit hospital system, said the on-demand Lyft service provides an additional resource for the community's most vulnerable patients, in keeping with Ascension's stated mission to look out for the impoverished.
Catholic-sponsored Ascension is the first major hospital company to engage Lyft, which is rolling out a non-emergency medical transportation business across the country.
“Many of the patients we serve across the country, especially those living in poverty and struggling the most, rely on public transportation, which can be inconvenient in terms of schedules and pickup and drop-off points,” Ascension CEO Anthony Tersigni said. “Some patients may need a ride just once or twice a year, but some individuals with chronic conditions have to travel frequently to one of our care sites.”
Ascension suggested it would subsidize rides for some of its patients.
"Ascension will work with patients who have a need for free or discounted services," Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Nick Ragone said in an email response to a query about financial assistance. "All scheduling is done through Lyft's online tool, and only an authorized Ascension employee will have access to the tool.”
Ascension made waves last spring by deciding to waive the deductibles or unpaid bills for any patient earning below 250% of the federal poverty level at any of its 141 hospitals and other facilities across 24 states.
Lyft is a giant on-demand transportation company that allows people to arrange rides with Lyft-certified drivers to take them from doorstep to doorstep. Its main rival is Uber.
Over several months, Lyft will be expanding its medical transportation business in the markets served by St. Louis-based Ascension.
“Lyft is excited to partner with Ascension to bring expanded transportation options to its patients in communities across the country,” said Gyre Renwick, Lyft head of enterprise healthcare partnerships.
Ascension, which posted revenue of $21.9 billion in fiscal 2016, is in the midst of a rebranding effort that will put its corporate name in front of all of its hospitals and locations to promote the strength of the system.
The rebranding is rolling out first in Ascension's largest markets.
It has 15 hospitals in Michigan and 25 in Wisconsin. The operations in those two states account for 32% of Ascension's overall patient revenue. Ascension facilities are located in 24 states and the District of Columbia.