Uber, Lyft and Instacart solving social determinants of health? 

December 01, 2022

Of all the contributors to an individual's health outcomes, at least 40% can be attributed to social determinants of health. However, did you know some unlikely players have recently entered into the space to provide needed resources to communities?

Instacart: As food costs continue to rise, 1 in 10 Americans lack reliable access to nutritious food. Instacart is utilizing their network of retailers and drivers to tackle food insecurity head-on. They recently launched Instacart Health with the goal of investing in product innovations, partnerships, and research across three key themes: nutrition security, making healthier choices easier, and bood as medicine. Some programs of interest:

  • Launching innovations to make EBT SNAP benefits and TANF benefits (i.e., government assistance programs for food and everyday essentials) more accessible through their app.
  • Fresh Funds allows employers and health systems to give people funds to buy nutritious foods from grocery retailers on the platform.
  • Care Carts gives healthcare providers and caregivers the ability to order groceries on behalf of someone else.

Uber & Lyft: It's no secret that ride sharing apps are transforming the way we get around our communities - 25% of the US population uses ride-sharing at least once a month. It's not surprising that individuals are leaning on these apps to get to and from healthcare-related appointments - emergent or not. Embracing the role they have in communities across the US, Uber launched Uber Health and Lyft launched

Lyft Healthcare, each with the goal of helping provide access to healthcare by scheduling reliable transportation. Transportation issues are a significant social determinant of health and can cause missed or delayed healthcare appointments which ultimately can result in poorer health outcomes. Uber Health & Lyft Healthcare’s proactive, convenient approach to closing this gap could have a major impact on how individuals access their care. Who knows, maybe non-emergency medical transit will find its way to being a covered health care benefit?

The Big Picture

These organizations are able to impact social determinants of health by having their drivers & grocery shoppers available to help close the gap at a community level. Perhaps this community-based approach is key for any solution looking to solve for social determinants of health? Employers will need to decide whether and to what extent to support community-based solutions like grocery and ride-sharing services.

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