The rideshare war is going strong in the US as Uber and Lyft compete for a wider mix of rideshare services for their customers. Uber is now trying to reach out to potential new clients that do not have a smartphone.
Patients that need to reach their doctor's office and don't own a smartphone can now enjoy the wonders of ridesharing as Uber begins collaborating with healthcare organizations that manage their client's schedules.
The new system that Uber and partners have put in place allows doctors' offices to schedule appointments in their system, book a scheduled appointment or generates an on the day request for an Uber car to pick up the patient. The patient is then a new client of Uber and has an account with Uber without needing a smartphone.
On the day of the appointment, the system will generate an SMS text message that the patient will receive, notifying them when to be ready for the car. Uber intends to add a phone call alarm that will ring a landline number if the patient doesn't own a mobile phone of any kind.
According to Uber's GM of Uber Health, Chris Weber, "Transportation barriers are the greatest for vulnerable populations. This service will provide reliable, comfortable transportation for patients." This statement can be backed up by some interesting statistics; The National Conference of State Legislatures claims that around 3.6 million Americans miss scheduled doctor's appointments or delay treatment of ailments due to transportation issues annually.
For Uber and partners to succeed with their new endeavor, a system had to meet the strict privacy regulations set by the federal HIPAA law. This means that the passenger's name, pick-up location, and drop-off location will be made available to the driver, just like a regular request. Uber drivers will not be able to differentiate between passengers of Uber, and Uber Health, and cannot opt-out.
Peter Whorley, an Uber driver in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Who works as an Uber driver for over 2 years already works with patients, he drives a Honda Odyssey minivan that gives him more flexibility when helping passengers that need extra space and provides assistance to Uber clients that need to reach medical appointments. Whorley told the media that "I just picked up someone with back surgery the other day. I like to help people; if they need extra assistance, I personally don't have that problem. But some people might be squeamish, and not want to." He added that the use of a smartphone is important to help provide a better service; "When you're a good passenger, you should be able to have your phone out to communicate with your driver."
Weber stated that the new service is not going to replace ambulances and will not deal with emergency care requests. You won't dial 911 and get an Uber. Uber Health is just another service that Uber is rolling out to help people get from their homes to medical appointments and back home again.
As of today, over a hundred US HCO's are participating with Uber in the new service, and Uber intends to expand its coverage nationwide during 2018.