Association of Rideshare-Based Transportation Services and Missed Primary Care Appointments: A Clinical Trial

JAMA Intern Med. 2018 Mar 1;178(3):383-389. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.8336.


Importance: Transportation barriers contribute to missed primary care appointments for patients with Medicaid. Rideshare services have been proposed as alternatives to nonemergency medical transportation programs because of convenience and lower costs.

Objective: To evaluate the association between rideshare-based medical transportation and missed primary care appointments among Medicaid patients.

Design, setting, and participants: In a prospective clinical trial, 786 Medicaid beneficiaries who resided in West Philadelphia and were established primary care patients at 1 of 2 academic internal medicine practices located within the same building were included. Participants were allocated to being offered complimentary ride-sharing services (intervention arm) or usual care (control arm) based on the prescheduled day of their primary care appointment reminder. Those scheduled on even-numbered weekdays were in the intervention arm and on odd-numbered weekdays, the control arm. The primary study outcome was the rate of missed appointments, estimated using an intent-to-treat approach. All individuals receiving a phone call reminder were included in the study sample, regardless of whether they answered their phone. The study was conducted between October 24, 2016, and April 20, 2017.

Interventions: A model of providing rideshare-based transportation was designed. As part of usual care, patients assigned to both arms received automated appointment phone call reminders. As part of the study protocol, patients assigned to both arms received up to 3 additional appointment reminder phone calls from research staff 2 days before their scheduled appointment. During these calls, patients in the intervention arm were offered a complimentary ridesharing service. Research staff prescheduled rides for those interested in the service. After their appointment, patients phoned research staff to initiate a return trip home.

Main outcomes and measures: Missed appointment rate (no shows and same-day cancellations) in the intervention compared with control arm.

Results: Of the 786 patients allocated to the intervention or control arm, 566 (72.0%) were women; mean (SD) age was 46.0. (12.5) years. Within the intervention arm, 85 among 288 (26.0%) participants who answered the phone call used ridesharing. The missed appointment rate was 36.5% (144 of 394) for the intervention arm and 36.7% (144 of 392) for the control arm (P = .96).

Conclusions and relevance: The uptake of ridesharing was low and did not decrease missed primary care appointments. Future studies trying to reduce missed appointments should explore alternative delivery models or targeting populations with stronger transportation needs.

Trial registration: Identifier: NCT02955433.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Appointments and Schedules*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • No-Show Patients / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Philadelphia
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reminder Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Transportation of Patients / organization & administration*

Associated data