Uber Health Is Changing Transportation Access To Healthcare

Uber Health Is Changing Transportation Access To Healthcare

As healthcare and the way it's delivered takes on new roles in the ever-changing landscape created by COVID-19, one area that's garnering significant attention is transportation access to medical care. 

Uber Health, operated by the popular ride-sharing service Uber, is a new service that allows healthcare facilities to provide affordable and accessible transportation solutions for patients seeking care. The goal of Uber Health is to remove barriers for those in need, such as the elderly, chronically ill, residents of rural areas and more. The need and value of this service became apparent amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Many patients had little to no access to public transportation during the onset of COVID-related restrictions. These restrictions even made it difficult for family members to provide transit in some cases. 

Each year, an estimated four million medical appointments are missed due to a lack of transportation. Uber Health is designated for non-emergency medical transport (NEMT) situations, such as routine doctor visits. Historically, many companies that provided a similar service to Uber Health have experienced a 25-50 percent "no-show" rate. Currently, Uber Health's no-show rate sits at just eight percent

Ensuring all patients get to and from their appointments without stress, anxiety, or being limited by technology is the goal of Uber Health. Drivers and healthcare officials stay in close contact to ensure a simple, seamless experience for the patient. Medicare and Medicaid may cover the cost of transportation via Uber Health, depending on the type of coverage a patient has.  

Key Features of Uber Health

There are several key features of Uber Health to keep in mind when utilizing this service. 

These features include:

  • Scheduling a ride can be immediate or up to 30 days in advance. The "flexible" option allows patients to confirm pick-up before the driver leaves.
  • There are designated pick-up spots for passengers on large medical campuses.
  • Patients who do not have smartphones can access Uber Health easily via phone call. Travel information is sent through an automated messaging system.
  • Patients have access to easy and convenient billing, reporting and management. 
  • Uber Health is a HIPPA-compliant service.
  • Support for diverse communities is included. Uber Health supports 44 different languages in its application interface and 12 on its dashboard.

Liability Aspects

From a liability perspective, the healthcare provider or organization should become familiar with and understand the potential risks of this service.  Uber provides a minimum of $1 million of coverage per incident for damages to any third party when the Uber driver is at fault.  The healthcare provider has accountability because they can see all information regarding the driver, the pick-up/drop-off locations, real-time GPS tracking, and the cost of each ride.  Some states have lifted mandates that require drivers to undergo drug testing and be CPR/first-aid trained (these are usually requirements for more traditional modes of transportation).  Additionally, there is also the potential for assault or injury while a patient is being transported.  There are potential anti-kickback violations if CMS beneficiaries are offered free or discounted transportation under inducement or enticement.  Patients utilizing Uber Health should be able to walk independently and have a cognitive understanding of the situation.

Questions?

As the healthcare climate continues to shift amid COVID-19, new and emerging services like Uber Health will be essential to become familiar with.
Talk to a trusted RCM&D advisor today with any questions on Uber Health or other new healthcare solutions.

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