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Uber Launches New Service to Get You to the ER Faster

This probably sounds like a bizarre question, but who would you rather call in case of a medical emergency? 911 or Uber? Surprisingly, a recent survey revealed that most people prefer taking an Uber to the hospital instead of waiting for an ambulance.

Even hospitals have reported that the ambulance usage has dropped significantly ever since the ride-sharing service was first launched in the country. Now Uber wants to officialize its status as a new transport method of getting to the ER by launching a service that lets hospitals hail cars for their patients.

More and more people are using ride-sharing apps over traditional ambulance service to get to hospitals

Uber’s New Health Service

Uber is teaming up with hospitals around the country to launch a new service that lets doctors hail a car for their patients through the app. The ride-sharing giant has already designed a new ‘health’ dashboard for its app which has been tested in over 100 hospitals and clinics since last July.

Through the new service, hospitals now have the option to either use Uber to hair a ride to take patients home after being discharged or send a car directly to the patient’s house to bring them to the hospital.

The app also allows doctors to schedule trips up to a month in advance which can come in handy for clinics who deal with a large volume of appointments and would like to included a pick-and-drop service for their patients.

Only Accessible to Authorized Medical Staff

The new Health service by Uber allows doctors to hail a ride for their patients at similar rates to the regular ride-sharing service

Uber Health is a service specifically designed to help hospitals cut down on transportation costs while making sure that the patients are able to get the medical help they need in the quickest way possible. The Health feature doesn’t require patients to have the ride-sharing app installed on their phone since the booking process is handled by medical personnel at the hospital. Doctors are also able to access a printable screen with the description of the ride in case they need to mark the color and license plate number of the incoming Uber.

The dashboard also allows the doctors to see the patient’s contact information, and as soon as the Uber arrives at pick-up location, the patients will receive a text message with the car’s license plate number, even if they do not have the Uber app installed on their phones. The company says that the Health dashboard is only accessible to few qualified personnel and licensed doctors, and Uber’s new service is compliant with the medical-privacy law HIPAA.

A Cheaper Alternative to Ambulances

Jay Holley, who is responsible for overseeing the operations of Uber Health, says that the new tool will effectively solve the problem of unreliable transport and expensive ambulance service which costs the health care systems almost $150 billion every year in missed doctors’ appointments.

He added that none of the public or private health insurance companies have offered to reimburse hospitals for the new ride-sharing services and hospitals are using their own budgets to cover Uber Health costs. Nevertheless, the amount they pay for the rides is far less than the cost of missed or late appointments.

The prices of Uber Health in any given city aren’t any different than its regular ride-sharing service and the ordering process is similar to the regular app which makes it a cheap and convenient way for patients to make it to doctors’ appointments on time without spending any more money than they normally would through the ride-sharing app.

An Effective Solution for Missed Doctors’ Appointments

A private practice called Pro Staff Physical Therapy, which has seven clinics located around New Jersey, has been using Uber Health for almost a year. The practice’s chief clinical officer says that most of their patients are schedules for more than 2 appointments per week but many are unable to drive due to injuries or poor health. Since Uber Health is much cheaper than regular taxi service, Pro Staff is happy to cover the transport costs for the patients as long as they don’t miss their appointments.

The company (Pro Staff Physical Therapy) cautioned that doctors who use Uber Health must determine their patients’ condition before hailing a ride. If the patient isn’t well enough to sit in a car or needs paramedics, it is safer to choose an ambulance over Uber.

The announcement for the new service comes after the company was involved in a number of scandals including harassment claims, mistreatment of drivers and a massive data breach that leaked phone numbers and addresses of millions of Americans. Many are claiming that Uber is trying to win users’ trust back with the new service which can potentially spare Americans a hefty ambulance bill.

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