FORD PULLS THE PLUG ON HEALTH TRANSPORT IN 5 CITIES

Ford is pulling its GoRide Health nonemergency medical transportation (NEMT) vehicles — which mainly serve wheelchair-bound seniors — off the streets in five Ohio cities mere months after announcing an aggressive expansion plan to enter 40 new US markets, according to Tech Crunch. Ford is steering its health shuttling efforts toward Miami — a city its health segment had previously yet to infiltrate — and is shifting gears to focus on how it could incorporate autonomous vehicles (AVs) into its health initiative.

Ford’s decision to withdraw GoRide Health in some of its newest cities could be a byproduct of a crowding NEMT market — and while its shift to incorporate AVs into its health play could give it an edge, it could also bring challenges for seniors with mobility issues. Ford occupies the NEMT space alongside a crop of NEMT-focused startups, as well as ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft — both of which revved up their health plays this year and offer healthcare partners attractive digital experiences. And though these firms are also testing AVs, they haven’t inked any plans to incorporate them into their health businesses — meaning Ford is getting a head start in this corner of NEMT the space. However, we’re skeptical about deploying driverless cars for a service that ferries seniors with mobility issues, as older patients require assistance post-drop off — which could worry healthcare partners who want to assure safe and secure transport for their patients. 

TELADOC TACKS ON TELEHEALTH FOR NUTRITION COUNSELING: In its latest effort to diversify its line of virtual care offerings, the New York-based telehealth provider is launching Teladoc Nutrition — which will connect consumers with registered dietitians and customized nutrition plans, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. Teladoc has been quickly expanding into novel areas to get its services into the hands of new consumers: It unveiled its behavioral health solution — which it recently pegged as a major revenue driver — in October 2018 and rolled out a pediatric-specific platform in April 2019.

Because the majority of consumers are still wary of telehealth, virtual care providers are extending into new areas to attract as many consumers as possible. Despite US consumers’ apparent interest in telehealth, adoption still lags, with only 10% of patients utilizing it. While some telehealth firms are turning to consolidation as a means of broadening their reach and tapping into interested customers, Teladoc’s entry into new markets like nutrition should pay off: Consumers are generally interested in using digital tools for keeping tabs on their diet and nutrition — with about 40% of US adults ages 18-44 claiming to use one for this purpose, per a 2019 American Well Survey.