AUSTIN, Texas — A lack of accessible transportation limits a patient’s ability to receive the most appropriate level of care, at the appropriate time, in the best location. For this reason, the Community Care Collaborative (CCC), RideAustin, and Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin are partnering to use ride-share services to help low-income and uninsured Travis County residents access the health care they need.
In March, the CCC received a Transportation Empowerment Fund grant from the Capital Metro Transportation Authority to develop a pilot program with RideAustin through which eligible Travis County residents will be able to request a ride to and from a medical appointment.
“When we talk with our patients, we hear that inadequate transportation is often a barrier to accessing health care,” said Sarah Cook, CCC Director of Integrated Delivery System Strategy and Planning. “At the CCC, we are charged with improving patients’ health and their experience with the health system. We believe that by working in partnership with innovative design and technology partners, we will be able to serve our patients better, increase their ability to access care easily and work with them to improve their health. We are proud to work with our locally grown non-profit RideAustin and Dell Med to improve the health of the community that we all serve, and we are grateful to the Transit Empowerment Fund for supporting this phase of our work.”
The pilot is being designed to provide patients with free and convenient transportation to medical appointments and pharmacies within the CCC network. It will initially target patients with the greatest need for transportation assistance.
“One of our goals when starting RideAustin was to make transportation and ride-share services more accessible to areas of the community that are currently underserved by traditional mobility services,” said Andy Tryba, co-founder and CEO of RideAustin. “We’re proud to partner with the CCC and Dell Medical School to leverage our on-demand platform and help members of the Austin community get to and from doctor’s visits.”
Dell Medical School’s Design Institute for Health is analyzing and researching both the CCC patient population’s specific needs and how this program will improve existing voucher programs, seeking to understand the technological literacy of the population and people’s usage of data plans and apps. The Design Institute will help with the selection of patients and their on-boarding and training for an initial prototype, which is scheduled to launch in August.
“The dysfunction of our health care system affects everyone, but especially the most vulnerable,” said Beto Lopez, co-founder of the Design Institute of Health. “We are addressing this transportation challenge by first understanding the needs, lives and desires of the people we are trying to serve — in part by exploring why existing voucher programs fall short for many of Travis County’s most vulnerable patients.”
The pilot program represents the continuing evolution of the Dell Medical School’s contribution to improving the health of Travis County’s low-income and uninsured residents.
“This work is the product of a home-grown Austin non-profit, a first-of-its-kind Design Institute, and a health-focused community collaborative. It will provide a special service in a special city,” said Clay Johnston, Dean of the Dell Medical School. “It’s exactly the kind of solution we’re trying to stimulate in Austin, and we’re only just getting started.”