Ford Offers Non-Emergency Medical Transport with New GoRide Service

Proponents of mobility and autonomous vehicle technologies say those innovations have a lot of humanity-improving potential.

Self-driving cars will dramatically reduce congestion and accidents, they say, and will allow elderly and disabled people to get around more independently. One future scenario imagines residents of a retirement community requesting rides from a community-owned autonomous shuttle using a smartphone or other interface whenever the need arises.

However, a lot more technical development must occur before autonomous vehicles can safely operate on their own. In the meantime, ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft are delving into the non-emergency medical transport market—a market that has plenty of room for innovation.

For the past couple of years, Ford has also been working on a number of pilots involving intelligent commuter and non-emergency medical transportation services. This week, the automaker launched GoRide, a new on-demand ride service for medical patients, in conjunction with Michigan’s Beaumont Health network, which includes more than 200 facilities.

With GoRide, healthcare providers such as Beaumont can schedule rides for their patients. The GoRide fleet consists of 15 Transit vans, with 70 more expected to be added to the fleet throughout the year. The vans are operated by professionally trained drivers and can accommodate patients who have a variety of mobility challenges.

As the large population of Baby Boomers continues to age, it’s expected that the market for non-emergency medical transport will only grow. Missed appointments due to lack of transportation is already a problem. According to a report by SCI Solutions, missed appointments and scheduling issues cost the medical industry an estimated $150 billion each year, Ford said in a press release.

Ford has not yet said whether it has plans to expand GoRide, but the company will likely build on the service if it’s popular and continue to add layers of autonomy as the technology matures.

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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