A recent article about Uber Health addressed a number of the features that will be available with this transportation service. I found the details interesting in terms of what Uber perceives as an important niche in the healthcare sector (see: Uber Launches Uber Health, Looks To Improve Patient Experience In Clinical Research) Below is an excerpt from the article:
...Uber, is looking to expand their outreach to the clinical research community with the launch of Uber Health, a new dashboard the company hopes will remove transportation as a barrier to proper care. Using Uber Health, doctors and hospitals will be able to arrange rides for their patients even if the patient hasn’t downloaded the Uber app or does not have a smart phone....Uber Health will address a growing need in the clinical research industry, the company believes....“ In the clinical trial space in particular, we have heard over and over again that recruitment and retention are major issues, to the extent where transportation is a burden and ultimately a barrier for trial retention” ...[an Uber spokesman] said.....Currently Uber Health is leveraging all of Uber’s 750,000 US drivers, a choice...[that will] put focus on the reliability of the service....Another focus for Uber Health was limiting the amount of effort on the patient’s part to order the rides. All of the steps from ordering to paying for the ride (which can be handled as either part of the patient’s bill or the organization’s budget) are handled by the healthcare organization....Uber Health is not an ambulance service....Uber Health is available in two versions. As a standard web-based dashboard, hospitals and clinical trial sites can use Uber Health to arrange transportation for instant pickup or schedule for up to 30 days before their patient’s scheduled appointment. Uber Health also offers API functionality for the service, giving partners and customers the option to take all the capabilities of arranging transportation and building out their current technology to include these capabilities.
Of interest to me concerning Uber Health is that rides can be ordered and paid for by the medical provider as opposed to the patient. Particular reference is made to "the clinical trial space" where transportation may be important to subject "recruitment and retention." A number of articles have been published about barriers to clinical trial subject recruitment and retention (see, for example: Subject Recruitment and Retention: Barriers to Success). A shortage of subjects is particularly acute trial for immunotherapy drugs (see: A Cancer Conundrum: Too Many Drug Trials, Too Few Patients). It thus appears from this article that Uber Health will be courting the clinical trial transportation business. Clearly indisputable is that having arranged transportation for research subjects with expenses covered by the clinical trial budget is a very sensible approach to reducing at least one of the barriers that face research subjects.
Uber also seems to be well aware that some potential customers will not have access to the Uber Health app due to a lack of a smart phone or unfamiliarity with cell phone apps. Such individuals will be accommodated by Uber Health with all steps being managed by the health organization personnel. Nevertheless, the patient will still be informed about the status of a ride by text or telephone when the transportation is booked and at the time of pick-up. Uber Health also emphasizes in its web site that it's not an ambulance service although available on a 24-hour basis. Clearly, this is an important qualifier because I am sure that drivers don't have any special medical training. However, I suspect that some people in need to hospital care and without transportation may use Uber Health services for transportation to hospitals and ERs. This may be a good choice if an illness is not severe given the cost of ambulance services.