Ride-sharing innovator Uber is working hard to win back fans after a disastrous year of public relations had them in the headlines for all the wrong reasons many times in 2017. The company recently unveiled an initiative that would offer patients in every US city where Uber operates to hire the company for a ride to their next medical appointment… for free, at least to the patient.
The plan, according to Uber, is to set up accounts with the hospitals and doctors’ offices, charging them for dropping patients off or picking them up, rather than charging the patients for the service. For the patient, they have ultimate flexibility, being able to set up an Uber just a few hours before the appointment. They won’t even need a smartphone to reserve the ride.
Uber kicked off the initiative last year in a few select test markets, and the company said more than 100 health care providers signed up. Uber hopes more see the benefit and sign up for the service. Uber health Executive Jay Holley told the Associated Press the service is a big win for providers because it’s one more way to get patients to come in for appointments, especially those who struggle with transportation issues.
Holley added the big benefit for Uber is a ready pool of new potential Uber customers. A lot of people who might be considering Uber but haven’t given them a shot could be introduced to the company in this way.
At this point, it’s been a win-win. Most healthcare providers are not passing the cost along to patients, and Uber is getting both a new stream of revenue and a new group of customers. Meanwhile, more patients are taking advantage of well visits or going to the doctor sooner than they might otherwise.
Uber’s largest rival, Lyft, already has a similar service they call Concierge. This service gives healthcare providers the option of setting up rides for their patients to get them to and from appointments on time. The providers pay for these rides as well.
Healthcare providers and insurers are big proponents of these kinds of plans because they know that, the more people go to the doctor more often, the better the overall health of the community will be. The question, at this point, is how well with this initiative scale? No one quite knows for sure, but it may do very well, and it could be the precursor to a major shift in how the public gets from A to B.
Ronn Torossian is CEO & Founder of 5WPR & one of America’s most notable PR executives.