For some, getting to the doctors or hospital is a real struggle – especially if they’re needing medical attention because of a condition which inhibits their ability to move. In some cases, an ambulance can step in, of course, but these are best saved for emergencies. What about the gaping chasm in between an ambulance and a no-show?
Yesterday, Uber threw its hat into the ring by launching Uber Health: a HIPAA compliant B2B service that aims to ferry people to and from medical appointments, whether or not they have an Uber account or even a smartphone.
Instead, rides and arranged by the health professionals on a dashboard, with notifications sent to the patient via SMS message, and there are plans afoot the extend this to a phone call for those who might miss a text. The system, which is currently in beta testing with over 100 organisations across America, can arrange transportation up to a month ahead of time, giving health providers ample scope for managing follow-up care.
“Every year, 3.6 million Americans miss doctor appointments due to a lack of reliable transportation,” wrote Uber Health general manager Chris Weber in a blog post announcing the launch. “ No-show rates are as high as 30% nationwide. And while transportation barriers are common across the general population, these barriers are greatest for vulnerable populations, including patients with the highest burden of chronic disease.”
Cost of the rides will be charged to the medical service in question, and will apparently be comparable with the price of Ubers hailed regularly via the app.
For now, Uber Health is just in the United States, and it’s not clear if it will ever be an option for here in Australia. One thing is for sure though: Uber is very keen for this not to be considered as an emergency service – something that’s increasingly common for passengers who believe hailing a ride will be quicker than an ambulance, with worrying consequences for the drivers.