How Seniors Can Get a Lyft Without a Smartphone

As health care providers continue to link up with ride sharing services, one technology company is jumping on the bandwagon to serve its customers in a new partnership with Lyft. The partnership is the latest example of an increasing trend helping seniors use ride sharing without needing a smartphone.

GreatCall, a technology company that provides products and services to enable older adults to remain independent, has teamed up with Lyft to provide on-demand and scheduled rides for its customers in five pilot markets. The service works with GreatCall’s Jitterbug phone, a cell phone designed to be easy to use for older adults, with a simple interface and health care apps.

The new service allows GreatCall customers to dial a live operator and get an on-demand or scheduled ride without needing to download and navigate the Lyft app. Expanding accessibility to easy-to-use and on-demand transportation to seniors is quickly becoming one of the hottest trends in health care and technology, as evidenced by recent home care companies, including 24Hr HomeCare, making the jump into this type of transportation.

As GreatCall has continued to expand services that complement its technology for older adults, transportation was the next logical step, GreatCall CEO David Inns told Home Health Care News.

“As we’ve launched more and more of these services, we go through the top needs of the older consumers,” Inns said. “One of the issues that bubbles to the top is transportation. Younger generations have been enjoying the new technology of ride services, but there’s a large chunk of the older consumer segment that is not really astute at downloading and using apps on smartphones.”

While more seniors are using smartphones every day, few are regularly using apps or feel comfortable using new technology compared to younger generations, according to Inns. Under the new partnership, GreatCall customers dial 0 on their Jitterbug phone to reach an operator who can then hail a ride via Lyft for the senior.

“Our customers love talking to people; they don’t love talking to computers,” Inns said. “It really lowers the barrier for getting the transportation that you need. We feel like this on-demand ride service is something the younger generation is already doing, and this gets seniors that service.”

Meeting Demand for On-Demand

Lyft, a company based in San Francisco, has already ventured into the heath care scene, partnering with many different kinds of care providers and other technology companies. GreatCall, noting those previous partnerships, saw Lyft as a complementary partner to serve their existing customers.

“Conversations [with GreatCall] started about a year ago, as we kept developing our concierge product,” a Lyft spokesperson told Home Health Care News. “GreatCall is one of the most well-known organizations for the active aging community. Lyft’s focus on connecting people and communities through better transportation and GreatCall’s mission on providing services are both well aligned.”

Ride-sharing has become hugely popular across the globe, but many seniors still rely on family members and caregivers to transport them. About 78% of family caregivers provide transportation for family members, according to GreatCall. A vast majority also spend 21 hours or more driving family members, according to Inns.

“Seniors can be part of the ride-sharing community without ever needing a smartphone,” a Lyft spokesperson told HHCN. “They are now able to call for a Lyft and be on their way to meet up with their grandkids, go to a baseball game or visit old friends that they previously couldn’t with the use of our partnership with GreatCall.”

The pilot program launched in five markets—California, Florida, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth and Arizona. Rides reportedly arrive within 10 minutes of a call being placed on a Jitterbug phone.

“Seniors are always striving to be mobile and independent,” a Lyft spokesperson said. “This partnership eliminates technological (not using a smart phone), financial (not needing to own a car) and operational (not having to operate a car) barriers. Seniors are becoming more and more comfortable in ride-sharing as Lyft has developed dozens of partnerships in the senior space.”

The cost of one of these rides is the same as taking a Lyft through the regular smartphone app, plus a small fee for GreatCall’s operator service. The fee is roughly 15% of the ride fare, according to Inns.

Eventually, GreatCall will spread the service nationally and could become available to its 900,000 customers, Inns said.

Written by Amy Baxter

Photo: “LYFT” by Alfredo Mendez, CC BY 2.0