Nonprofit Sostento Announces Major Expansion of Health Equity Rideshare Innovation at the Clinton Global Initiative 2023 Meeting
Expansion of Initiative Will Deliver Thousands of Free Ubers to Low-Income Patients Across America
New York, New York – National nonprofit Sostento announced today at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) 2023 Meeting a Commitment to Action to deliver free Ubers in underserved communities nationwide, an effort aimed at increasing access to equitable, life-saving healthcare across the country.
At the event in Manhattan, Sostento CEO Joe Agoada outlined the organization’s plan to bring its innovative Uber rideshare approach to 75 different free and charitable clinic locations over the next two years. These rides would be free of charge to all patients and provide them with transportation to medical appointments and other places–like supermarkets and pharmacies–that help them lead their healthiest lives.
This initiative from Sostento, “Rides for Health Equity,” represents an expansion of an ongoing partnership with Uber Health aimed at improving health outcomes in marginalized communities across the United States. Since the inception of the partnership in 2021, Sostento’s mobilization of free Ubers has already delivered more than 12,000 rides spanning 115,000 miles. That’s the equivalent of driving more than four-and-a-half times around the globe.
Under the initiative, patients and clinics no longer have to worry about missed appointments, and patient access to care is improving as a result, said Molly Stone, Executive Director of Medical Outreach Ministries, a Sostento partner clinic in Montgomery, Ala.
“In the past–and this was every week–patients at Medical Outreach Ministries would cancel or no-show their appointments because a car broke down or a ride was canceled, compromising the patients’ care and leaving volunteer physicians without patients to serve. The free rides with Sostento successfully removed this transportation barrier,” Stone said. “A seven-minute Uber is a game changer for a patient who desperately needs his insulin on a 100-degree day in Alabama with no other method to reach the clinic.”
Currently operating at 15 clinic locations and expanding to 15 more before the end of 2023, the rides began as a means to provide patients lacking transportation options with a free ride to access COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. It has since expanded beyond COVID-19 treatment to include numerous types of rides that improve patient health, including primary, specialty, and preventive care appointments, transportation for volunteers and staff, delivery of medication, and more. Under this initiative, Agoada said, clinics across the United States in cities like McAllen, Texas and Milwaukee, Wisconsin will now be able to help their patients address transportation barriers and ensure their health never has to take a back seat.
“I’ve never heard frontline health providers talk so passionately about how an innovation can transform access to services; they rave about what these rides do for both their clinic and their patients. When you have daily access to a car or live in a place with good public transportation, you tend to take trips to the grocery store or pharmacy or your doctor for granted, but lack of transportation is a problem hundreds of thousands of Americans face every day,” Agoada said. “CGI 2023 was the perfect time for us to share our plans to expand our work with Uber, and Rides for Health Equity represents Sostento’s formal initiative to bring these rides to as many communities as possible.”
What differentiates this approach from the traditional rideshare model is the fact that patients themselves are not ordering the Ubers. Instead, clinics handle all the logistics. This eliminates a major challenge Sostento identified during initial piloting with clinics: those needing a ride the most often have never used Uber, do not have a credit card to sign up for the app, and face language and technology barriers in ordering a ride themselves.
To access a free Uber, a patient requests a ride from the clinic, and the clinic staff will order and coordinate the ride using the Uber Health platform. This prompts a driver in the Uber network to pick up the patient from their home. The patient gets a text message when their Uber is ready for pickup, and they are then driven to where they need to go.
The 12,000 rides to date have been made possible with support from several sponsoring partners including the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the CDC Foundation, the Cencora Impact Foundation (previously known as the AmerisourceBergen Foundation), and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Their support covers both the cost of rides and the implementation of the service by Sostento and it’s free and charitable clinic partners. At the CGI event, Sostento is seeking additional sponsoring partners to further its ambition to bring the rides to as many of the 1,200 free and charitable clinic locations that exist in the United States, with the next goal being to reach a milestone of 75,000 rides from 75 locations by 2025.
Sostento is a 501c3 nonprofit founded in 2019 with a mission to help frontline health workers save lives. Sostento’s team of technologists, designers, and public health specialists work collaboratively with free and charitable clinics in high-poverty communities to deliver solutions that eliminate health disparities and increase access to critical healthcare services.
About the Clinton Global Initiative:
Founded by President Bill Clinton in 2005, the Clinton Global Initiative is a community of doers representing a broad cross section of society and dedicated to the idea that we can accomplish more together than we can apart. Through CGI’s unique model, more than 9,000 organizations have launched more than 3,900 Commitments to Action — new, specific, and measurable projects and programs.
John Peyton Boan, Communications Manager
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