SPLT Tackles Non-Emergency Patient Rides, Opens Mexico Office

Detroit-based enterprise ridesharing and carpooling startup SPLT has been on a take-no-prisoners growth trajectory since CEO Anya Babbitt first set foot in the Motor City last year as part of Techstars Mobility’s inaugural cohort.

So far in 2016, the two-year-old company has won a number of pitch competitions across the country, participated in Google Demo Day at the tech giant’s headquarters in Mountain View, CA, and established a number of partnerships and pilot projects.

Over the summer, SPLT announced it is working with Lyft to provide non-emergency medical transportation in Detroit. It’s an underserved market, Babbit said, and many of those needing transportation are seniors. Since more than a quarter of seniors don’t have smartphones, the new service doesn’t require one. Instead, patients or their representatives submit their name, pick-up location, and drop-off location via SPLT’s website, text message, or an old-fashioned phone call, and then the patient is matched with a Lyft driver.

Babbitt said SPLT will handle the system’s back-end technology, while Lyft provides the drivers. SPLT will also handle verifying patients qualify for Medicaid reimbursement, tracking ridership data , and customer service.

“SPLT is the broker, and Lyft is the transportation provider,” she explained, adding that a local ambulatory services company—she declined to say which one—will provide vehicles that meet ADA standards to transport patients.

Currently, 3.6 million Americans miss or delay medical care every year due to lack of access to transportation, she said. Typically, patients are required to book transportation several days prior to their appointment. Then, following the appointment, patients are often stuck waiting for busy drivers to arrive. Over time, Babbitt said, the systemic inefficiencies have eroded patient trust. And since there aren’t a lot of options for those with no car or no family members with cars, patients can also feel like they don’t have a choice or voice in their transportation.

“Patient trust is what we plan to bring back to the non-emergency transportation experience,” she said. “By using the same technology and algorithms that we use for our enterprise carpooling service, we can help patients safely arrive on time.”

SPLT and Lyft want to reduce pre-booking times to hours instead of days, and cut patient wait times to minutes.

“With the way non-emergency transportation is done now, there is no quality assurance, no way to rate the driver, and no way to track the driver,” she said. “We allow patients to rate rides and we geotrack.”

Lyft has offered a similar service in New York , and Babbitt said the company is willing to expand wherever market demand is sufficient. Detroit’s non-emergency medical transportation service will go live this fall, initially through pilot projects associated with hospitals.

SPLT will also start international service in Mexico City in November after inking an employee carpooling deal with electronics company Bosch.  SPLT recently hired someone on the ground in Guadalajara to facilitate the partnership.

To take advantage of these new opportunities, SPLT has been on a hiring spree, adding four employees—two local software engineers, a JavaScript engineer from Austin, TX, and an international operations manager—in the past month. The company also plans to hire 20 more people to handle customer service and technical support for non-emergency medical transportation.

“We’ve been capturing a lot of these homecoming hires,” she said, referring to young professionals originally from Michigan who are now moving back to the state at a steady clip on the strength of its growing tech startup ecosystem.

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