For many people, the only thing worse than having to go to the doctor is figuring out how to get to and from the doctor's office. Uber thinks it has something that can make that experience a little bit easier.
On Thursday, Uber announced Uber Health, a new service that will let doctors and patients schedule rides for appointments and return trips home. Uber said it hopes Uber Health will alleviate the matter of 3.6 million Americans missing their appointments each year due to inadequate transportation.
"While transportation barriers are common across the general population, these barriers are greatest for vulnerable populations, including patients with the highest burden of chronic disease," said Chris Weber, general manager of Uber Health, in a statement announcing the service.
How Uber health works will differ somewhat from Uber's traditional app-based ride-hailing service. Instead of an app, patients and healthcare providers will use a special text-message platform to communicate and arrange rides. Uber said it has worked with Clearwater Compliance to ensure that the Uber Health platform meets the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 law -- better known as HIPAA -- to ensure patient privacy while using Uber Health.
The cost of the rides will be covered by healthcare providers.
Uber said more than 100 healthcare organization in the United States have been using Uber Health in a beta program and that the full service goes live on Thursday.
© 2018 San Jose Mercury News under contract with NewsEdge/Acquire Media. All rights reserved.
Image credit: iStock/Artist's Concept.
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