In a move reflecting ongoing expansion beyond its existing platform, Epic has integrated technology from ride-sharing company Lyft.
The new Lyft for Epic integration will allow health system staffers to schedule a Lyft ride home for patients directly from the patient’s record. Two hospitals—Ochsner Health and Tampa General– have agreed to test out the tool.
The partnership agreement comes as payers – especially Medicaid – have begun offering rides to patients who might otherwise skip visits and deteriorate. Health systems are increasingly opting to try out this approach.
Lyft for Epic, which integrates Lyft Concierge directly into the Epic platform, allows staffers to schedule rides from within the record. The staff members select the appointment date, pickup and drop-off time and patient name. The tool also allows hospital staffers to track the patient’s time within Epic to see when they’ll arrive.
According to Lyft, such an arrangement helps provider organizations meet some of their key goals for ambulatory care. For one thing, according to the rideshare company, using Lyft can reduce patient no-show rates by as much as 27%.
Over time, Lyft says, the Lyft for Epic integration will help with broader efforts. The company says that the new integration will eventually generate reports making it easier to measure the impact of rideshare use on health system spend and population health outcomes and eventually target patients who might benefit from a Lyft ride.
What makes this more interesting, from an HIT perspective, is that the agreement with Lyft is just part of efforts by Epic to connect with technologies and services beyond its borders.
One notable example of this trend is Epic’s new partnership with Microsoft Teams, in which it will become the first EHR to integrate the Microsoft Teams connector. This integration allows clinicians and patients to launch telehealth visits through the Epic system. Plus, it also leverages Nuance’s DAX technology to assist with the clinical documentation.
Another case is Epic’s agreement with Nuance, maker of healthcare industry standard dictation software suite Dragon. Working in tandem with Nuance, Epic is bringing its the Hey Epic voice assistant to the user interface of its desktop EHR.
My colleague John Lynn suggests that these new agreements (as well as the Lyft deal) constitute at least some admission by Epic that it can’t do everything and needs good partners, though he adds that the EHR vendor is still conservative about the partners it chooses.
I agree, but would add another perspective to the mix. What I see here is also Epic continuing to expand its idea of what its core platform should be. While integration between health IT systems and functions is hardly a novelty, adding radically different tools like rideshare capabilities or voice assistants suggests that it sees next-gen EHRs as being more modularized and capable of new forms of customization – much like it does with AppOrchard on a smaller scale.
All told, while the Lyft deal itself might not be huge news, it’s one of a growing list of steps Epic and its partners are likely to take as they plan the next generation of systems. That makes it worth a closer look than it might seem otherwise.