When we think about what is broken in the healthcare industry, it doesn’t take long to realize that the healthcare experience for patients is often subpar. Costs are also going through the roof, and outcomes have not improved with the increased spending. These reasons, among others, are why patient engagement has become an increasing focus in this industry—we have to find ways to improve patients’ health and reduce costs.
Patient engagement becomes even more vital when we consider the barriers that result from social determinants of health, which include factors such as a patient’s general state of health, access to care, and financial situation. These factors can often prevent patients from receiving the care they need. For example, if patients can’t get to their appointments, it becomes difficult overall to improve their healthcare journeys.
Known for transforming taxi services, Uber created Uber Health around 2018 as a way for providers to coordinate rides for patients and caregivers. Uber Health isn’t necessarily a response to the need for patient engagement, but it still follows the principles of good patient engagement. In KLAS’ recent report on Uber Health, we take a first look into customers’ responses to the platform and the value it provides.
Who is Uber Health for?
The Uber Health platform fills a gap around nonemergency medical transportation (NEMT). Within KLAS’ categorization, Uber Health falls under the navigation pillar of wayfinding, which itself falls under the general umbrella of patient engagement. Uber Health is intended for any health system that handles NEMT, but the platform may be particularly interesting to organizations that are deep into population health and trying to be more patient-centric.
The Uber Health platform provides an opportunity for organizations to serve populations affected by social determinants of health. If patients need NEMT to physician care appointments, mental health visits, or even the food bank, organizations can arrange that by using Uber Health.
The platform is also helpful for caregivers as they travel to and from patients’ homes. In some homecare facilities, over half of the caregivers use public transportation, which affects how effectively they can visit and serve patients. But with Uber Health, organizations can ensure that people have the transportation they need at the time they need it.
How does Consumerism affect Healthcare?
We live in a world where convenience is required in all areas. We shop online in the comfort of our own homes, we use apps to handle our finances, and we use delivery services to get groceries and takeout. We like convenience because it is faster, cheaper, cleaner, and easier, and industries have to adapt to the need for convenience in order to remain competitive and engaged with consumers.
The same applies to the healthcare industry, so getting insights from more consumer-oriented businesses may be helpful to health systems. Other industries excel at catering to customers and engaging a population, but those are things the healthcare industry is still trying to figure out. Uber Health stems from a business that seeks to make transportation as convenient as possible, so the platform could aid healthcare organizations in better meeting consumers’ needs.
Uber Health could also be helpful for facilities that are trying to reduce costs. Transportation costs are usually transferred to the patients or to the health organizations if the patients don’t have insurance. Using Uber Health can lessen the financial burden on patients and organizations because the revenue model for the platform is no different from the standard Uber fares.
Can Uber Health Improve the Patient Experience?
According to the data in our Uber Health report, most customers are either satisfied or highly satisfied with Uber Health and saw quick results. One director said, “To get set up with the solution, it takes one click to agree right on the vendor’s website. The process is dirt simple.” The simple process of Uber Health allows customers to quickly begin serving patients who are most in danger of missing appointments, so the platform definitely has the potential to improve the patient experience.
One factor that may affect the future of Uber Health and other NEMT services, however, is COVID-19. Uber Health was created as a concept before the pandemic, and with the shift to telehealth, more patients are taking advantage of the ability to attend visits while remaining at home. While there will always be a reason to go see a clinician in an office, and while Uber drivers are trained to meet patient safety requirements for COVID-19, there is the question of what role NEMT will play in the future as the healthcare industry continues to adapt to current needs.
In addition to responding to COVID-19, Uber Health will need to be cognizant of certain areas as they continue to grow and drive toward the future. Customers have made complaints about the lack of options with vehicles and the lack of integration with EHRs outside of Cerner’s. KLAS will continue to monitor Uber Health’s progress, but for now, the company seems to have a platform that provides real, immediate value to customers.
For further information about Uber Health and KLAS’ analysis of the company, please read the report.Photo Credit: Adobe Stock, Belozersky
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