Crowdsourcing lifts to the GP or Hospital

I’ve always felt it must be difficult to get to a hospital on a regular basis if you are old. I remember when my twins were born and we had to go almost every day to the special care unit, finding a parking space parking and just the general hassle was a right pain and we were the ones that were ill. If you’re old, frail, mildly confused, in pain, having problems with your bowels or bladder it must be a nightmare.

While I understand the move towards bigger hospitals with more specialism this does move them further away making transport more difficult. The Christie Hospital in Manchester is one of our tertiary referral centres, it’s hours away and I know patients find it incredibly difficult to get there on a daily basis when going for chemo. I have come across patients who rented a room at a Travelodge next door and stayed there for the week which seems to me to be an ingenious idea, which I tell others about.

I have recently seen an article stating that apps like UBER and other car-sharing apps have had the bright idea of offering their services to patients needing lifts to the hospital hoping to capture a new market. I’m unclear what it is they are offering – The article I’ve seen talks about making it easy for hospitals to schedule the rides and let drivers know when the patient is ready to collect. They arent talking about discounts or free rides. They appear to be trying to convince hospitals to pay for the cost of the ride – as it reduces DNAs and this might work in the States with a PBR like tariff where a no-show is no income but I cant see it working in the UK.

The idea of crowdsourcing lifts isn’t a bad one and I presume there is an UBER like app for hitchhiking or similar? If you could get willing volunteers to offer others lifts to GPs/hospitals that would be socially responsible. I guess the trick would be to get a decent number of individuals checking their app on a regular basis to see if anybody in their area needed a lift. I guess the other problem is one of checking that the person offering the lift isn’t a mass murderer.

I once did some work with a company called Health2works that had an app called RallyRound which had a similar idea where a person needing help, put the jobs that they needed doing, out for their social network to volunteer to do and this could be an extension of that.

On this grounds I have often wondered if the role for driverless cars is to take the frail elderly who can no longer safely drive by themselves either to the shops, the GPs or the hospital. There would be no need for them to do fast journeys so the cars could travel at 10 or 20 mph to minimise risk and the “car” could easily be suitable for wheelchairs and equipment and the like and take people from door to door.