Researchers at University of Southern California’s 2018 Body Computing Conference recently revealed their preliminary findings on how Lyft can benefit lives of senior citizens with free rides.
In an article by Fast Company, the quality of lives for senior citizens improved when given free Lyft rides. The pilot program focused on the connection between senior citizens and transportation. UnitedHealthcare and the AARP Foundation funded the program with a $1 million grant for researchers to provide free rides to elderly in the Los Angeles area while studying their health.
Millions of senior citizens miss medical appointments and stay indoors each year because of a lack of transportation options. Leslie Saxon, executive director of the USC Center for Body Computing told Fast Company, that with no access to transportation it’s not just about missing these doctors’ appointments, but it could be harmful to their life as well.
“What really determines survival in an aging population is socialization–it’s any trip out of the house, and how active you are. That is the No. 1 determinant of basically who lives and who dies.”
150 participants, aged 60 and older, took part in the Lyft program and used devices to track behavioral patterns. They were also offered app-use training and a concierge style phone number that they could call to get picked up, in case they did not want to use a smartphone. All of the participants were living with chronic conditions and had various income levels. Some lived alone, were retired, or on disability and all of them did not have transportation.
The pilot program allowed participants three months of unlimited and free Lyft rides for anything they needed, with a push on doctor’s appointments.
“Following 4,806 free Lyft rides, researchers found that subjects took an average of one ride a day, ranging at about $20 for an average of 14 miles,” stated in the Fast Company article. “The study’s preliminary findings reported a 35% increase in activity (based on steps taken) from baseline to ride access.”
90% of patients said that the free rides had a positive impact on their quality of life. Besides medical appointments, some went out with friends and families as well. By the end of the study, 97% even said they were more likely to use their smartphones to request rides.
Lyft and USC will continue further research on this study to get a more in-depth economic analysis. The final study will be published in early 2019.
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