Could Ride Sharing Apps Help Patients Keep Appointments?


News and internet forums are filled with ride-sharing drivers who have taken patients to the hospital or the doctors.

Part of my job includes working at a practice site and taking last year pharmacy students on rotation. My site focuses on ambulatory heart failure management and associated cardiovascular conditions. Usually, students are responsible for working up patients a few days in advance, discussing them with me, and then we see them the day of their scheduled appointment. At least, in theory, that's how it works. What I feel sorry for is when my students put all their time into a work-up, and the patient doesn't show up. One question I routinely hear from students is "Why didn't they come?" My response is generally, "Life happens."

Indeed, medical no-shows are a common occurrence, and enough to plague any medical office that wants to maximize visits throughout the day to meet profit margins (and needless to say, the possible adverse patient outcomes). You don't make money if no one shows up. So we send reminders, we call them in advance, some practices will charge those that no show a fee. But that doesn't negate that life happens, and for some patients getting to an appointment is tantamount to climbing a mountain, it just isn't going to happen. They can't drive and rely on others to bring them like their friend/child who can't take them that day, the bus is late, or the weather is bad (who wants to wait in the cold rain for public transport), or they just can't do it that day due to other factors.

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