Ride Health’s Imran Cronk wants to fill medical transportation gaps

The company helps coordinate hundreds of thousands of medical rides each year.
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Nico De Pasquale Photography/Getty Images

· 3 min read

Imran Cronk was volunteering at a North Carolina hospital when a newly discharged patient approached him just before midnight. The older man, who was brought to the facility by an ambulance earlier in the day, had no ride home, no money, and no one to call.

The hospital offered little help, and the man—off balance and with compromised vision—faced a daunting prospect: walk the eight- to nine-mile distance home. For Cronk, that was not a solution.

“The only thing I could think to do in the moment was offer him a ride home,” he told Healthcare Brew. “That’s what ended up happening.”

But he didn’t stop there.

Now, almost a decade later, Cronk is helping patients at that hospital—and others across the US—with medical transportation through Ride Health, a company he co-founded in 2016.

Reimagining medical transportation

Ride partners with health plans, healthcare providers, health systems, and transportation companies—from nonemergency medical transportation to rideshare operators—to schedule and manage pick-ups and drop-offs for everything from doctor’s appointments to day programs for seniors or individuals with developmental disabilities.

The New York-based company operates in more than 30 states and coordinates hundreds of thousands of rides each year, Cronk said. He expects that number to soon “cross over into seven figures,” even after the Covid-19 pandemic upended medical care and transportation needs.

“We’re doing substantially more than we were doing pre-pandemic,” he said. “We’ve been doubling every year for about the last three years now.”

Ride offers one system of record—the Ride Health portal—where organizations can manage their transportation-related needs. Ride’s system then handles everything from request intake to ride assignment, routing, dispatch, and payment.

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Cronk, Ride’s chief strategy officer, said the portal gives users visibility into this “critical infrastructure to all of their care operations”—something that had traditionally been “very offline” and “unstructured.” And that oversight, he argued, benefits both patients and facilities.

For example, some programs for people with developmental disabilities must have participants arrive on time so programs like Medicaid will cover the service, Cronk said. Timely transportation can also help ensure that older adults who utilize services like the federal Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) can engage in maximum socialization.

The simple act of making sure patients show up for hospital and other medical appointments can prevent unnecessary and costly admissions.

“There’s a pretty intuitive linkage between adherence to that routine care and avoidance of hospitalizations that payers are obviously accountable for and increasingly signing agreements with provider organizations to take on greater accountability for,” he said. “The way they need to address that with transportation looks different for each one, so you have to be nimble.”

What’s next?

As the US health system continues to emerge from the pandemic—and more healthcare organizations reassess their transportation needs and services—Cronk said he wants to scale up Ride to “help as many of them as possible.”

He’s also interested in adding more engaging technology and experiences into medical transportation, like interactive screens with customized content for passengers.

“There’s certainly first-order problems to address, like making sure the trains run on time, so to speak. But then there’s a lot more you can do with that,” he said.

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