As hospitals continue to work to reduce readmissions and overall costs across the continuum of care, one home health agency is partnering with Uber in Los Angeles to improve transportation when seniors move from a hospital stay back into their homes.
Uber, an on-demand ride service company based in San Francisco, recently announced it has been training some its top drivers to take part in uberASSIST, a program designed to help seniors get where they need to go in a reliable and safe way. 24Hr HomeCare, a West Coast-based home health care agency that serves thousands throughout 13 locations, has taken advantage of Uber’s latest initiative in the form of a new partnership that will transport seniors to their homes after they are discharged from the hospital.
The program aims to save time and money for hospitals and patients alike. Under the parntership, the hospital can call 24Hr HomeCare to request an uberASSIST, and the patient can be safely traveling home in about 30 minutes. Under the arrangement, a follow-up visit with a 24Hr care provider also can be requested.
“They’re discharged from the hospital but maybe they don’t have family or friends close by to get them home,” Gavin Ward, 24Hr’s regional director of strategy and partnerships, told HHCN. “A big challenge for hospitals is having a patient ready for discharge but there’s no safe method home. A taxi, for example, will drop off curb to curb, but a driver may not be trained on how to properly interact with someone who may need assistance getting in and out of a vehicle and safely through the door when they get home.”
The cost to patients? Just $49 per ride within a 10-mile radius of the hospital. For $69, a patient can get an uberASSIST and a 2-hour wellness visit from a caregiver provided by 24Hr HomeCare the next day.
The idea is that working with a home care provider like 24Hr HomeCare can help reduce the likelihood that a patient will be readmitted, occurrences that can lead to Medicare penalties for hospitals.
Providing this service also could lessen the financial strain on hospitals that may have patients ready to be discharged but have to wait a significant amount of time for a safe way to get home. Working with a home health agency to provide convenient, speedy and safe transportation would appear to be a win-win-win for patients, hospitals and home health agencies.
“It’s very expensive for the hospital to have the patient remain there,” explained Ward. “The hospital is responsible for those costs even when the patient is ready to go home.
Uber drivers are trained by Open Doors Organization, a Chicago-based non-profit organization that works to provide the same consumer opportunities for all persons with disabilities. Drivers are trained on services like how to properly fold a wheelchair, assisting a blind person and helping those who may have just had surgery safely enter and exit a vehicle. These drivers can ensure that patients make it into their homes safely coming from the hospital.
“This is not just about transportation,” Ward told HHCN. “The goal is to get patients home safely. It frees up our care staff to get to the home instead of having to go to the hospital first. Hospitals want to get patients home but they need patients to be safe there.”
One of the biggest benefits is that home caregivers should have more time to provide services instead of driving.
24Hr HomeCare already has a transportation program with area hospitals, called Hospital to Your Home. Caregivers from the company pick up patients from the hospital within a three-hour window of a service request. According to Ward, the company often makes it there with caregiver automobiles within two hours. With uberASSIST, that time is cut to about 30 minutes or less.
“We realize there are situations where two hours is a long time,” Ward told HHCN. “Two hours is considered very quick in our industry but this will make it even faster.”
With the partnership up and running, 24Hr HomeCare expects to soon work with area hospitals to offer the convenient transportation services to hundreds of patients.
Written by Amy Baxter