A patient with a substance use disorder in a rural town outside Houston recently needed lab work done before she could be prescribed medication for her treatment. But she didn’t have a ride to the lab.
Not a problem, as it turned out. Be Well Texas, a program of UT Health San Antonio that treats patients statewide for opioid and other substance use disorders, arranged for Lyft to pick her up at home and take her to the lab and back home again. And all free of charge to the patient.
UT Health San Antonio, on behalf of Be Well Texas, entered into an agreement with Lyft Healthcare to provide transportation for patients in need to its clinic in San Antonio, but also for telehealth patients anywhere in the state who need rides to the lab or the pharmacy. Lyft Healthcare is the ride-hailing company’s service for health care patients. The agreement is fulfilling an urgent need.
“About 30% or more of our patients lack transportation,” said Van King, MD, DFAPA, FASAM, medical director with Be Well Texas. “Others have transportation but are limited with their funds because they work part-time, just started working or just lost their job. They have to be very mindful of how they spend their money, and that obviously includes transportation. This helps our patients whose budgets are limited.”
Be Well Texas, funded by Texas Health and Human Services, provides treatment and resources statewide virtually, and in-person at its clinic in San Antonio’s South Texas Medical Center, at 5109 Medical Drive. Patients who are seen by virtual visits statewide additionally can get a ride for follow-up appointments with a primary care physician, if a Be Well Texas provider determines those are medically necessary.
Under the agreement, Be Well Texas is offering access to rides for all patients age 18 or older regardless of their ability pay. Lyft Healthcare ensures compliance with HIPAA and federal and state regulatory requirements to protect patient privacy and to ensure health care rides are handled in a lawful manner.
Be Well Texas personnel are trained in requesting rides for a patient, and can do so for those who do not have reliable transportation or resources to travel to clinic, lab and pharmacy visits – and for those who might not even have a permanent physical address. “We do have homeless patients who are in need,” said Claudia Draper, MBA, a practice manager with Be Well Texas. “We have a patient who came in recently who’s homeless and he would walk and ride the bus to get to our clinic.”
The ride service is limited to medically necessary appointments and laboratory and pharmaceutical services required for treatment for patients of Be Well Texas. For more information, visit https://bewelltexas.org, or call the clinic at (888) 85 Be Well, (888) 852-3935.