Uber Health wants to ship you to and from the doctor

Emilio Banks
March 4, 2018

In fact, every year, 3.6 million Americans miss doctor's appointments or delay medical care because they have no way of getting there.

"A healthcare associate books a ride on demand or for a future appointment, using the Uber Health dashboard to seamlessly coordinate riders for those in need", the company's website advertises.

But now, Uber itself has a new offering. Text messages will alert patients about their rides, which are covered by providers, and they will be picked up by Uber drivers. There's also an API so that organizations can integrate Uber Health into existing healthcare products. In 2016, Uber partnered with Boston-based company Circulation to provide rides for patients to more than 700 participating health facilities in 25 states.

Providers pay for the service in a single monthly bill, but can access patient accounts to monitor expenses and other metrics, such as usage frequency and trip durations, Uber Health said. So Uber drivers won't be able to opt into the health service the same way that they opt into Uber Eats, a food delivery service. Jay Holley, head of Partnerships at Uber Health, said it's up to the doctors and providers to understand a person's physical state to know if an Uber vehicle is the best form of transportation for them.

"Transportation barriers are the greatest for vulnerable populations", Chris Weber, the general manager of Uber Health, told NPR.

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"This is something that you don't have to have a smartphone to use it, you don't even have to have a cellphone at all, so that opens up the world of Uber to a much broader group of people". He was the person who drove the ambulance, meaning he saw the stressed emergency services system and the "critical need" for medical transportation. Home care companies have also partnered with Uber for this service.

The size of the opportunity has so piqued Uber's interest that the company has deployed low-tech solutions in its pilot programs.

New Orleans still does not have access to wheelchair-accessible Ubers through the company's platform UberWAV, which is available in larger cities such as San Francisco and Washington D.C. The service did not provide information on when UberWAV will be made available locally.

Uber Health has been in testing since July with around 100 physicians and hospitals. This allows for transportation to be scheduled for follow-up appointments while still at the healthcare facility.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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