Lack of reliable transportation is a critical social determinant of health and a significant barrier limiting access to health care.

Veteran Marshall Carter was looking for an economical way to make trips back and forth from his cancer treatment at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. For patients like Carter, getting to and from doctor appointments is critical.

In the waiting room at the hospital, Carter noticed a brochure advertising a new program about MedStar working with Uber to coordinate transportation for patients. With his curiosity peaked, he consulted with his provider about the program’s services, and soon after started using Uber for every appointment.

“I thought that it was super,” says Carter. “I have nothing but accolades. It was extremely helpful.”

Community Health got involved early on in the program concept to help identify ways that the partnership could support those who are challenged by both the logistics and cost of transportation in underserved communities as barriers to getting to medical appointments. This led to identifying how Uber could help case managers, social workers and discharge coordinators empower patients to make appointments they might otherwise miss, and ensuring this service was available to all patients—including those most vulnerable.

Director of Consumer Health Initiatives for the MedStar Institute for Innovation Pete Celano, who initially explored MedStar’s partnership with Uber, says, “Many patient no-shows, cancellations and reschedules are because patients lack convenient or cost-effective transportation.”

A “Ride with Uber” button is currently displayed on MedStarHealth.org, allowing patients to quickly request a ride. Since MedStar’s partnership with Uber launched in early 2016, patients have taken more than 1,500 rides to medical appointments.