SCL Health addresses social determinants of health through transportation

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Transportation is a key social determinant of health. Getting patients to and from SCL Health facilities is often times the first step to improving health, but gaps in transportation options can negatively impact a patient’s health.


SCL Health’s clinical staff use Lyft Concierge, requesting rides as they identify patient needs.


  • Reduced wait times and improved patient experience
  • More value for the dollar, compared to taxi rides
  • Improved access to patient care

How SCL Health is strengthening communities with Lyft.

SCL Health is a nonprofit health system serving low-income communities, primarily in Colorado and Montana. Founded by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth in 1864, the $2.6 billion network provides comprehensive, coordinated care via hospitals, clinics, home health, and other services.

SCL lab doctor with clip board

The Challenge

SCL Health staff members take pride in responding quickly and empathetically to patients’ needs. In an uncertain healthcare climate, says Terri Casterton, SCL Health’s System director of innovation in virtual health, achieving that goal requires creativity.

To make a real difference, SCL Health staff focus increasingly on social determinants of health, where access to care plays a significant role. Patients who rely on public transportation often spend hours traveling to and from appointments. SCL Health has used taxi vouchers, but service is expensive and patients can wait for hours.

Transportation hurdles also affect SCL Health’s ability to provide care. “When patients can’t get to their appointments, they miss out on an opportunity to receive care and a no-show means that another patient who could have used that appointment also misses out,” says Casterton. Missed appointments often mean wasted resources which has clinical and business impacts.

“It’s about that on-demand model that patients as consumers are looking for. They want care, and they want it now. Lyft is part of delivering the experience our patients want and need, for SCL Health.”

Lauren Kealy

Program Administrator, Innovation and Virtual Health, SCL Health

The Opportunity

“When you’re looking at populations that have food or transportation insecurity, what is the one thing we can do to help people maintain or improve their health? Get them to the care they need,” says Casterton. The team saw that Lyft could help them solve the access-to-care problem with a modern experience that would delight patients with its ease and simplicity.

Peter Kung, System Vice President of Innovation and Virtual Health, says his Lyft counterparts demonstrated a good appreciation of HIPAA and other healthcare regulations — table stakes for any SCL Health partnership. The team also appreciated Lyft’s values-driven mission and its emphasis on treating both riders and drivers fairly.

“Lyft takes healthcare transportation seriously and we appreciate their collaboration to take care of our patients” – Peter Kung, System Vice President for Innovation in Virtual Health, SCL Health

The Solution

The SCL Health team began implementing Lyft Concierge in October 2017. They started providing service from their Denver Care Sites that deliver both inpatient and outpatient care.

Four months later, Lutheran Medical Center, one of SCL Health’s Colorado campuses, decided to take the program hospital-wide. Clinical staff across every department, including social workers, RNs, and case managers, began requesting Lyft rides through Concierge as they identified patient needs.

Staff quickly learned to change their workflows around transportation, says Casterton. “When a patient is preparing to be discharged, many things can happen to move their discharge time. Don’t call that Lyft car until right when you need a ride.”

In February 2018, SCL Health’s Lyft program went live across all Denver markets in both inpatient and outpatient settings, and launched the service at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Billings, Montana. The team continues to roll the program out as Lyft drivers become available in smaller markets.


High-end service

Lyft drivers demonstrate commitment to SCL Health riders, providing consistent service.

"The stories we hear about the the experiences our patients have with Lyft drivers - that let's us know we're absolutely doing the right work to support our patients."

Terri Casterson

Dedicated experts

Lyft’s healthcare group offers knowledge and experience in the industry.

"The fact that Lyft has taken strides to understand the healthcare industry has made it that much simpler to engage with them."

Terri Casterson

More value for the dollar

"Lyft is less expensive than a taxi, so we’re able to serve more patients. As our data set grows, we look forward to keeping an eye on how this service might contribute to better outcomes."

Peter Kung

Appointment adherence

Preliminary feedback indicates a positive trend for cancellations and no shows.

Looking Ahead

SCL Health innovators look to Lyft as a partner as they step up the organization’s patient-centered, on-demand model. “We’re laying the foundation now with some of the more obvious and straightforward Lyft use cases,” says Casterton. “I’m excited to see where this might land us in a couple of years.”

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