Uber is introducing a new service that provides transportation for patients to and from healthcare facilities. Called Uber Health, the service allows healthcare professionals to summon rides for patients going to and from healthcare destinations.
“Coordinators can schedule rides on behalf of patients, caregivers and staff to take place immediately, within a few hours, or up to 30 days in advance. This allows for transportation to be scheduled for follow-up appointments while still at the healthcare facility. Multiple rides can be scheduled and managed at the same time, all from a single dashboard,” according to an Uber spokesperson.
Uber devised the plan to help alleviate transportation barriers that are common for vulnerable populations, including patients with the highest burden of chronic disease.
Rider/patients don’t need the Uber app, or even a smartphone, to get a ride with Uber Health because it’s all done through text message. However, there will be an option for riders to receive a call with trip details to their mobile phone or landline instead. According to Uber, for many, their first ever Uber ride will be through Uber Health. Uber says it is committed to providing the necessary education tools that ensure every patient feels comfortable and at ease during their journey.
Uber Health is promising safeguards to assure compliance with HIPPA. “We also worked with Clearwater Compliance, a leading HIPAA compliance company, to conduct comprehensive risk and compliance assessments. We are thus pleased to sign Business Associate Agreements (BAAs) with our healthcare partners,” according to Uber.
HIPPA issues kick in right from the start. An Uber driver picks up a patient and delivers him or her to a clinic, such as an orthopedic surgeon, cancer treatment center, or a dialysis center. “As soon as that happens, that Uber driver is now in possession of PHI, protected health information,” according to a spokesperson for Clearwater.
“That driver and therefore Uber, becomes a business associate.”
Uber has implemented a 10-point program to ensure HIPAA compliance and cyber risk management.
Uber claims that so far over 100 healthcare organizations are using Uber Health as part of a Beta program. They include: hospitals, clinics, rehab centers, senior care facilities, home care centers and physical therapy centers.
These include Adams Clinical, Blood Centers of the Pacific, Georgetown Home Care, LifeBridge Health, MedStar Health, Manhattan Women’s Health, NYU Perlmutter Cancer Center, Pro Staff Physical Therapy, ProActive Work Health Services, Project Open Hand, Renown Health, Thundermist Health Center and Yale New Haven Health. Healthcare technology companies like Bracket Global and Collective Health are also exploring ways that Uber Health can work with their offerings.