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‘PRONTO’ Transport Service Offers Free Rides to Patients

Thursday, February 23, 2017

UI Health has partnered with a local startup to offer patients a ride home after they have been discharged.

The pilot program is projected to provide about 300 rides in February and March through Kaizen Health, a Chicago company that coordinates non-emergency medical transportation. The rides will be paid for by the hospital.

“UI Health is continually looking for ways to improve the health and wellness of our patients, including by examining the impact of the social determinants of health,” said Jerry Krishnan, associate vice chancellor for population health at UI Health. “Last year, we identified transportation to and from our health system to be a significant barrier for the patients we serve. We designed the ‘Pilot PROgram for Non-emergency TranspOrtation’ — or PRONTO — to provide an option for patients who are going home after being treated in the hospital.”

Because the exact time of discharge is often unknown, it can be hard for patients to arrange transportation in advance, said Avijit Ghosh, CEO of the UI Health Hospital & Clinics. “So often they are left waiting in their rooms for their ride after they are given the OK to go home. By offering rides home through Kaizen Health, which coordinates the rides through Lyft, we can get these patients home faster and provide care for more patients that need it.”
In the pilot phase, rides will be offered to patients discharged from the medical surgical and critical care units who live in Chicago.

On Feb. 2, the hospital was on Incident Command Status due to critical bed shortage. That day, PRONTO provided 10 rides home to patients, seven of which were transitioned to home by 2 pm, alleviating some of the bed shortage.

“[This was] an awesome opportunity to see just how this model can assist us in achieving one of our goals: improving throughput,” said Rani Morrison, senior director of care continuum at UI Health. “Being able to transition 10 patients earlier in the day is a huge win and helped when the hospital was in crisis mode.”

PRONTO is just one of the programs to come out of UI Health’s community-needs-assessment survey, completed last year. The survey focused on identifying the unique social determinants of health that affect people in the communities UI Health serves.

“We believe it is our responsibility to do whatever we can, even in lean times, to help improve the health of our patients,” said Dr. Robert Barish, vice chancellor for health affairs at UI Health. “The community needs assessment helps us identify non-medical barriers to health, so we can develop targeted initiatives and programs to reduce those barriers and help the communities we serve.”

In addition to transportation, the survey also identified housing as a barrier to care.

“Last year, UI Health launched a program to place some of the chronically homeless patients we see in our emergency department into permanent housing,” Barish said.

Ghosh anticipates that the pilot program will improve the hospital’s ability to see more patients by speeding the turnover for hospital beds. Expanding the program in the opposite direction — to bring patients to the hospital — also is on the table.

“Transportation is a big barrier to many of our patients,” Ghosh said. “By providing rides, we keep our patients healthier and can care for more people.”