Uber Emerges as the Next Uber For Healthcare

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Uber, the mobile app company that connects an army of local drivers with nearby Uber users in need of a ride, has been evaluating new ways it might monetize its global network of users. To that end, this week the company is finishing up an experiment in which its app was used to coordinate free, in-home flu shots for users, rather than rides. 

Called UberHEALTH, the one-day pilot program was carried out on October 23 in Boston, New York, and Washington DC. From 10am to 3pm, users were able to request a flu shot with their Uber app, and within the next few hours an RN would be delivered to their house with up to 10 flu shots available for anyone there needed to be vaccinated.

The service was delivered through a partnership between Uber and Passport Health, a Baltimore public health organization. Passport Health provided both the nurses and vaccines. Uber drivers transported the nurses to and from their house calls for the day. The result was a one day, on-demand vaccine service that was completely free of charge. To further sweeten the deal, Uber has promised to donate $5 to the Red Cross for each vaccination that it gave out during the pilot program.

The idea to use Uber as a public health tool did not actually come from within the company. John Brownstein, a Boston Children’s Hospital epidemiologist, approached Uber with the idea earlier in the year, and the company loved it. While Uber has yet to publish any numbers from the experiment, a USA Today article reports that demand was high and phone lines were busy all day long in the pilot cities.

In a blog describing the initiative, Uber gives no indication on what the future of the program entails, but its certainly a sign of the times that even established, well monetized platforms like Uber are looking for their way into the digital health boom.


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