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basis. And the ride services themselves are working to make it easier for older adults to use their services. They’re tackling the adoption issue from several directions, many hinging on the interconnection of transpor- tation with overall health. In fact, when seniors were given unlim-


ited Lyft ride credits for three months, they showed a 90 percent increase in self-report- ed satisfaction, according to a study with the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, United Healthcare and AARP looking at how better access to transportation can improve quality of life for seniors. GreatCall CEO David Inns says his compa-


ny identified the link between social isolation and giving up driving and aimed to change that with the launch of GreatCall Rides. GreatCall works with a Jitterbug


phone—a user simply dials 0 and gets a personal operator to arrange a ride; no app or smart phone needed. The cost goes on a monthly bill. “Rideshare services come with their fair


share of challenges for older adults—includ- ing the complexity of using a smartphone app, and concerns around safety,” Inns says. Any solution needs to increase accessibility and remove the need for special instructions or devices. “Working together, transportation com-


panies and healthcare plans can make senior transportation accessibility a reali- ty, with the understanding that it’s a vital ‘prescription’ to ensure senior population health,” says Brandon Piersant, vice pres- ident of marketing and communications at American Logistics, which works with Uber to provide a streamlined transportation ser- vice to health care plan members. American Logistics operates as a sort of combination broker and benefits manager; it determines the best mode of transpor- tation for the rider’s needs, whether that’s mass transit or door-to-door, as well as those of any caregivers.


Medicare Advantage connection Another barrier to adoption can be cost. But circumstances appear to favor changes


Realizing that transportation is an important factor in health and well-being for older adults, ride-hailing services go for streamlined connections to the whole health picture.


in reimbursement, particularly through Medicare Advantage. “Government subsidized programs are


now redefining what constitutes the social determinates of health, and transportation is a key initiative in that shift. We do work directly with several managed care organi- zations in Medicare Advantage and Med- icaid nationwide that service communities daily,” says American Logistics’ Piersant. “Recognizing the connection between mobility—or a lack thereof—and senior loneliness, as well as accessibility issues, Medicare Advantage programs are becom- ing more progressive in their transportation benefit programs,” he says. “The industry is waking up to the reality


that to support the overall population health of the senior community, treatment begins with transportation—no matter whether the destination is to a doctor’s office or a senior center.”


Partners for the big picture Transportation can be seen as a kind of ecosystem—it’s more than a ride. It needs to be not only easy to access and obtain, and tailored to accessibility needs, but also to connect easily to cost reduction or reim- bursement programs, and beyond that, to overall health and quality of life. And the ride-hailing services are on board with that. “Broadly, Lyft enables seniors to access


a better quality of life through improved transportation,” says Kate Cory, Lyft’s corporate communications manager. The company partners with many, including GreatCall and GoGoGrandparent. The American Logistics partnership with Uber Health “delivers an unmatched level of access to millions of healthcare plan mem- bers,” Piersant says. “Through the power of our partnership, health care organizations


can now provide smarter patient pickup and drop-off, scheduling, real-time GPS track- ing, and messaging, through one unified platform.” With technology partnerships, services


have the ability to connect at each point of need: Convenience through scheduling and easier uses, safety through GPS tracking and messaging, and cost through connections with health care organizations and plans. GreatCall is taking this big-picture


view. The company partners with several senior living providers for varied levels of service, as well as with other companies for additional services. For instance, a recent partnership with Best Buy, which is striding into the health care market, “completes the circle of accessibility,” says Inns, “with services such as Geek Squad—tech experts who can answer questions and simplify de- vice activation and tech support.” Inns’ vision is of interconnected tech and


services, of which rides are just a part. The goals include reducing ambulance and emer- gency services, increasing the right preventa- tive measures, and enhancing quality of life. For instance, GreatCall has also devel-


oped Lively Home, an in-home passive monitoring service that uses sensors to keep tabs on an older person’s eating and sleep- ing, as well as creating predictive analytics to try to get ahead of health problems. But like other leaders, Inns stresses that


while developing technology will only be- come more important as the population ages, the top priority in technology devel- opment is knowing who older adults are and what they want. “It’s critical that technology and services,


such as ridesharing, are designed for the old- er adult, and that these resources can meet the older adult at their level of comfortabil- ity and need,” Inns says.


JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020 ARGENTUM.ORG 27


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