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A partnership between Uber Health and American Logistics is changing the way patients receive nonemergency medical transportation (NEMT).
A recent HIMSS20 Digital session dove into just how important it is to provide transportation for patients. Every year, four million medical appointments are missed or delayed because patients can't get there.
"Access to transportation is a key social determinant of health that disproportionately affects vulnerable communities like the elderly, low income or chronically ill," said Francisco Bram, head of product marketing at Uber for Business.
The partnership, which began in 2019, integrated Uber's ride-sharing platform into American Logistic's certified service network to give more transportation access to those in need. With it, healthcare providers can schedule precise rides for patients, get real-time GPS tracking of the ride and message drivers directly within the platform.
"We actually use Uber whenever possible for all of our healthcare member populations, including the most vulnerable, if they can walk on their own and can cognitively manage the Uber experience," said Mike Dunne, vice president of healthcare and transit for American Logistics.
Uber Health's platform has a variety of features for the benefit of healthcare providers.
Its platform is HIPAA-secure and is available for desktops or mobile devices. Providers can choose between two types of rides – scheduled rides, in which pickups can be set immediately or for up to 30 days in advance, and flexible rides, which allow patients to confirm they're ready for pickup before the driver leaves.
For facilities that have large campuses, designated pickup locations can be set up within the platform. Predetermined spots – down to the door – can be available for selection. Both the driver and the patient get detailed instructions sent to their phone on how to get there.
For patients who don't have mobile phones, Uber Health offers scheduling for landline riders. The travel information is sent by automatic message to the rider's landline.
Providers can also choose from 44 languages on the application programming interface and 12 on the dashboard.
The digital platform offers account histories for providers to see information regarding the rider, driver, the pickup and drop-off locations, and the cost of each ride.
"You will get accountability for your dollar, down to the cent, which we all know is not possible in a lot of the alternatives that exist today," said Akarshan Kumar, head of product at Uber.
In case of an accident during transportation, Uber provides at least $1 million of liability coverage per incident for damages to any third party when the Uber driver is at fault.
"This we've seen, especially in the healthcare vertical: It really takes the concern off our healthcare partners," said Dan Trigub, the head of Uber Health.
Looking to the future, both companies said they will look for ways to continue to improve nonemergency medical transportation.
"In many cases, we believe treatment begins with transportation," Dunne said. "And when transportation benefits are designed and properly executed, the members are happier and more likely to enjoy their outcome."
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