New Uber initiative may make it easier for seniors to access healthcare

Uber Health could help bridge the gap between healthcare providers and patients who don't have their own reliable transportation.

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Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Uber is partnering with healthcare organizations to provide patients with reliable transportation to and from their doctor appointments.
  • The initiative could help seniors and those without reliable transportation more easily access healthcare.

Uber is fighting transportation barriers to healthcare by teaming up with healthcare organizations to provide patients with reliable transportation to and from appointments, the company announced Thursday.

Uber Health lets healthcare partners and caregivers order rides for patients who may not be able to drive, or who may not have their own reliable transportation, the press release said. The initiative could help underserved populations access the healthcare they need.

Some 3.6 million Americans, including nearly 1 million children, miss doctor appointments each year because they don't have reliable transportation, according to a Community Transportation Association report.

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Using a dashboard, healthcare providers will be able to order rides for patients up to 30 days in advance, allowing for transportation to be scheduled when follow-up appointments are needed, the release said. A caregiver can manage rides for multiple people on the same dashboard, as well as view billing statements. It's unclear who will be responsible for the cost of the ride.

The initiative could also be helpful in obtaining rides for people without smartphones who can't access the Uber ride-share app. Several vulnerable communities, especially seniors, may not have access to a smartphone or know how to use the app on their own. Instead, all of Uber Health's contact with the patient works via text message.

The initiative may cause other tech giants to look into how their products or services can be used to assist people, including those who may be outside of their typical market.

Other tech companies have already begun using technology for the greater good. For example, AT&T announced plans for a dedicated network for first responders, especially those in less-connected areas, in December. In November, software company Hc1 laid out plans on how they were going to use artificial intelligence and big data to fight the opioid epidemic.

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Image: Uber