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Patients Can Now Ride-Hail to the Hospital

Uber’s newest project allows doctors to call rides for their patients.
Uber Health isn't meant to disrupt the ambulance industry. But it could fill transportation gaps on the way to the hospital.
Uber Health isn't meant to disrupt the ambulance industry. But it could fill transportation gaps on the way to the hospital.Rick Wilking/Reuters

It’s been estimated that 3.6 million Americans miss or show up late to doctor’s appointments each year due to a lack of reliable transportation. That’s a public health problem: Skipped tests and check-ups mean lost diagnoses, lapsed prescriptions, and wasted time and money on the part of the healthcare system.

But the transportation landscape is changing. With about 75 percent of the U.S. population living in a county with access to an on-demand ride-hailing service, some patients are turning to Uber and Lyft as a means to medical care, whether it’s because they lack a car, live far from transit, or simply prefer not to drive. Now, Uber is making the relationship official. On Thursday, the company announced the launch of Uber Health, a platform that will allow healthcare providers to call their patients Uber rides to and from appointments, all using the Uber interface. Starting this week, the service will be available in the 250 cities where Uber operates.