Uber Health has released a set of new patient-centric features that officials say are designed to meet patients where they are and to make sure technology doesn’t stand in the way of getting someone the care they need.
Launched two years ago, Uber Health aims to help remove transportation as a barrier to care for those who need it most. A key element in that mission was to build a product that enabled healthcare organizations of any kind to request transportation on behalf of patients in need, no matter their circumstances. This includes riders who are often elderly, low-income, and less likely to have the Uber app or a smartphone.
Indeed, it’s been estimated that nearly 4 million U.S. patients cannot access healthcare due to lack of transportation, which can lead to more emergency room visits and hidden costs—up to $150 billion a year.
Over the past year, company officials say, Uber Health as worked closely with more than 1,000 healthcare organization partners to map out pain points in the non-emergency medical transportation patient experience. Last fall, the company and electronic health record (EHR) vendor Cerner made the news when they announced they’d be partnering up to allow healthcare providers to license from Uber Health the tools needed to book transportation directly from the Cerner EHR. Officials have previously said that the Uber Health dashboard can be integrated into existing workflows and EHR systems.
Uber’s chief competitor, Lyft, also operates in this space and just recently inked a deal with CommonSpirit Health, which has more than 700 care sites in 21 states.
This week, Uber Health released additional features to help healthcare riders can get to and from their appointments more easily. They include:
- Designated pickup spots: Patient pickups can be challenging, especially if a patient is located in a larger hospital campus, where all buildings may share the same street address. With designated pickup spots, healthcare providers can select specific pickup points at large hospitals and medical campuses, similar to the technology used on the rider app at airports and other large venues.
- Direct driver messaging: Healthcare providers can now message drivers directly on their driver app, ensuring drivers don’t need to toggle between the app and SMS notifications and making facilitating a pickup for a rider even easier.
- Serving a diverse set of patients: New flexible scheduling and notification features were designed to support the diverse communities of healthcare systems, including those who may not speak English or who don’t have a cell phone, and to help ensure patients are prepared for their ride.
- Multilingual notifications: Healthcare providers can send pick-up instructions to riders in 44 different languages via SMS.
- Scheduling for landline users: Ride details (car, driver name, license plate, etc.) can be shared via landline so that patients can connect with their driver quickly and easily once the ride arrives.
- Round trips: Healthcare providers will be able to request round trip rides for patients, ensuring they can get the care they need and find a ride back home afterwards.