Called Uber Health, the scheme sees the ride-hailing company partner with healthcare firms so they can provide transport to patients from a special version of the app. "Every year, 3.6 million Americans miss doctor appointments due to a lack of reliable transportation", said Chris Weber, the general manager of Uber Health, in a prepared statement.
By utilizing Uber Health, care coordinators can set up rides a few hours in advance or up to 30 days in advance.
The dashboard, Uber Health, allows a healthcare worker to book a ride on demand or schedule a future ride for a patient.
However, that same study also found that people don't often use ride-sharing services to reach healthcare appointments.
In beta since July, the company has already been working with 100 healthcare facilities including Adams Clinical, MedStar Health Institute for Innovation and Manhattan Centers for Women's Health.
Uber Health is compliant with the US's health care rules on data privacy, known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. But it is a way that Uber can open up a promising new line of business while also providing a solution to a problem in the healthcare industry backed by the reliability of the ride-hailing company's consumer service.
Uber wants to get you from your home to your doctor's office - and you won't even need to open the Uber app. It's not the only ride-share company looking for a piece of this market: Lyft also teamed up with Circulation and with insurer CareMore Health Systems. The patient need not have the Uber app or even a working smartphone: "The dashboard comes with a printable sheet allowing a doctor to circle the incoming Uber's auto color and write down the license plate".
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.
Needham says hospital staff assess which patients are at risk of missing critical appointments and provides them with pick-up and drop-off rides at the hospital's expense.
"It's not meant to be an emergency service", said Weber. This is important so the public can have the peace of mind all the time that the service complies with known standards.
Instead of operating through an app, Uber Health will send its passengers' ride information through an SMS text message.