Uber is driving patients to their doctors in a big grab for medical transit market

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Uber announced the launch of a new digital tool designed to book trips for patients who need assistance to go to and from their appointments. A health care provider can book a trip for patients and caregivers immediately, within a few hours or 30 days in advance. The company is positioning itself as a cheaper and more reliable option than most non-emergency medical transports.
Uber Health is available in two versions: as an online dashboard and as an API for software developers to integrate driving capabilities into their own health care tools. The service does not require an Uber account; Notifications can arrive through an SMS text message. The company plans to expand the service so that people with landlines can get the details of the trip that way, or through a mobile phone that is not a smartphone. Uber says billing is simple and easy to administer. It also complies with our most important medical privacy law. Today's announcement includes more than 100 health service providers throughout the United States.
A transport market valued at more than $ 3 billion
The non-medical emergency medical transport market is worth more than $ 3 billion, according to the Transit Cooperative Research Program, an independent research entity funded by the federal government. Much of that money is for people who can not drive, either because of their age or because of poverty, so the Medicare and Medicaid providers pay the bill. Uber has been clearly interested in the industry. In 2016, Uber partnered with the Circulation company, based in Boston, to offer patient travel to more than 700 participating health centers in 25 states. And last January, the company hired a veteran lobbyist in Washington, DC, to follow the company's agenda on policies related to medical care and privacy of medical records. It is not the only travel-sharing company looking for a part of this market: Lyft also partnered with Circulation and with the insurance company CareMore Health Systems.
"If there are people who lose their appointments because they are using an unreliable bus service to and from their health care provider, this is a great solution for them," said Chris Weber, general manager of Uber Health, to The Verge. . "The types of people for whom this is valuable really have no limits."
An average of 3.6 million Americans miss their health care appointments each year due to unreliable transportation, according to JAMA Internal Medicine. Missed appointments can trigger a chain reaction of increased emergency room visits, extended hospital readmissions, and higher costs distributed throughout the industry. Experts estimate that the impact of these missed appointments is $ 150 billion each year.
3.6 million Americans miss their health care appointments every year
Uber Health complies with US health care standards. UU About data privacy, known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. "We created this service from the ground up in a set of technology fully compatible with HIPAA," Weber said. "It was designed from the first day, everything we created from a technological perspective was created to fit the limitations and best practices of HIPAA."
And while meeting HIPAA is a good thing, it does not necessarily eliminate all risk. "Even if a platform complies with HIPAA, providers risk the potential imposition of severe penalties for data breaches, and business partner agreements must be implemented between suppliers and carpool companies," wrote Carlton Fields legal counsel in a note. of 2016 entitled "Offering shared travel services". to patients: Uber Risky? "
Uber was attacked by a cyber attack in 2016, exposing the personal information of 57 million drivers and drivers. Later, the company was accused of trying to cover it up.
Uber also does not have the best track record with regards to wheelchair accessibility. The company was sued by disability advocates last year, accused of denying equal access to people who use wheelchairs and violating Title 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Weber said: "We are definitely focused on making the experience better and more reliable, but from now on this is really focused on reaching the existing network of controllers."
Although the company that provides this type of vehicle tightens all forms of transport, do not expect this to lead to ambulances with the Uber brand in the near future. "Not on our road map," Weber said.

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