Hitch Health, which is one of several startups that is trying to bring ride-sharing to health care, has raised $900,000 to fund expansion efforts.
The Minneapolis-based company described the financial backers as “local angel investors” in a statement to the Star Tribune, but did not disclose any names.
Hitch Health was initially developed at Upstream Health Innovations, an innovation center at Hennepin Healthcare. The Minneapolis-based health system includes Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC).
“The additional funding allows us to focus on growth — driving awareness and extending our reach,” the company said in a statement. “Hitch Health is in the midst of implementation of additional customers in Minnesota and California.”
Hitch Health is trying to win business from clinics and health systems by highlighting the financial hit they can take when patients don’t show for a doctor’s appointment. The impact could be even worse, the startup said, with new “value-based care” contracts that give clinics financial incentives to make sure patients get preventive services to avoid more costly care down the road.
Value-based care is one reason why a division of Fresenius Medical Care, a German company that is one of the largest operators of dialysis clinics in the U.S., says it is also been utilizing ride-sharing companies to coordinate patient transportation.
While transportation may seem beyond the natural scope of a health care company, Fresenius said, it can help improve patient outcomes while lowering overall care costs.
“The majority of our rides are scheduled through vendors whose platforms utilize ride-share companies, such as Uber or Lyft,” Fresenius said in a May response to questions from the Star Tribune. “When these are not available, we use other transportation services, including taxis. The mode of transportation is dependent upon the patients’ physical needs.”
Earlier this year, Uber launched a program focused on partnerships with health care providers, citing no-show rates as high as 30 percent. Hitch Health uses Lyft, which rolled out its health care ride venture in 2016 and expanded it earlier this year.
Hitch Health’s software connects with a health care provider’s electronic health record to identify patients who could benefit from the program and automatically sends a text message offering a ride. Patients don’t need a smartphone, app or credit card to accept the ride.
Hennepin Healthcare retains an ownership interest but was not part of the most recent funding for Hitch Health, which the company disclosed in a regulatory filing earlier this week.
“Hennepin Healthcare continues to use Hitch Health at its primary-care clinics and hospital locations — where it is seeing remarkable ROI,” the company said in a statement. One of Hitch Health’s first customers was a nonprofit clinic in California.