Imran Cronk, the founder of Ride Health, wants to make it easier for patients to get a ride to and from the hospital, a problem he says makes disadvantaged populations miss or delay medical care.
He would know. About six years ago while volunteering at a North Carolina hospital, Cronk saw a patient get discharged from the hospital around midnight. Cronk remembers the recently-discharged patient thinking about walking home, about nine miles away, because they had no other option.
Cronk stepped in and drove the patient home.
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“That made me curious about the role of mobility and transportation in moderating somebody’s access to care and ability to get home,” Cronk told Crunchbase News. “It impacts millions of patients across the country.”
Fast forward and the 24-year-old entrepreneur has raised $6.2 million in a seed round for his real-time ride coordination startup Ride Health. The round was led by Activate Venture Partners. Other investors participated as well, such as Newark Venture Partners, Anthro Ventures, BioAdvance, Leading Edge Ventures, and Startup Health.
Ride Health connects health plans and healthcare providers to transportation options, whether that is an Uber (which the startup has partnered with) or a mom and pop transportation company in a rural area that doesn’t have ride-sharing cars. Think of them as a network management software, refining transportation, Cronk said.
“We are solely for non-emergency transportation, but we won’t rule out emergencies in the future,’ Cronk told me.
Per Ride Health, an estimated 3.6 million Americans miss or delay healthcare each year because of transportation issues, costing around $150 billion. The difficulty comes from a lack of coordination, language barriers, and no transportation option that coordinates clearly with care providers, he said.
As for why Uber, or any ride-hailing startup for that matter, is a collaborator versus a competitor? Cronk said that Ride Health helps transportation companies with the nitty gritty, nuanced clinical workflow of requesting transportation within healthcare programs.
Both Uber and Lyft have made efforts in regards to healthcare transportation in the past. For example, in October Uber announced its integration with Cerner Corp., which would give caregivers the ability to schedule rides for patients. It has a whole arm, Uber Health, to make it easier for providers to schedule transportation for patients from various backgrounds. Lyft is working to cover rides for Medicaid beneficiaries in select states.
But Cronk pointed out a few factors worth considering.
Effective transportation has to be, “built a way that does not assume that everyone has a smartphone or lives in an urban area where there is access to rideshare or that they can walk without support or they use English,” he said.
In other words, Cronk thinks that transportation, especially when it comes to healthcare, will always be about more than getting from point A to point B.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias