I’d been hearing rumors about Uber (the black car service) creating an Uber Health service. I don’t think anyone is clear on the details and I’m not sure how they can do Uber Health when it seems like they have enough growth opportunities and challenges with their car service. Undeterred, yesterday Uber Health dipped its toe in the water with a Flu Prevention program for 1 day in 3 cities.
Uber partnered with Vaccine Finder to bring flu prevention packs and flu shots directly to you at the push of a button (an Uber button of course).
The offering was obviously really compelling. This version of Uber Health was free and Uber made it possible for the service to come to you and your 10 closest friends. I haven’t seen any reports on how it went, but I’ll be surprised if I hear that the service wasn’t swamped all day. They made it really convenient to get a flu shot. Hard to argue with something that comes to you for free.
What’s interesting to me is whether Uber can scale this kind of house call service in healthcare. No doubt they already have the transportation infrastructure in place to move the doctors and other medical personnel around as needed. However, that comes with a pretty steep cost which will have to be passed on to the patient. Plus, I don’t know how an Uber ride is any cheaper than the doctor driving her own car. I guess the doctor could chart the previous visit while the Uber drives her to the next one. Either way, it’s still an added cost that will have to be incorporated into the house call doctor visit.
You have to remember that Uber comes from the startup centric culture of Silicon Valley. In that culture, these companies will happily pay for a house call service like what Uber Health could be. First, these startup companies are competing for the best talent and being able to tell their employees that the Uber Health house call service is one of the benefits of working there could be a way to attract and retain the best talent. Second, these startup companies want their employees working as much as possible. A visit to the doctor takes a big chunk out of the day when they could be working and building their company. The lost productivity alone is reason enough for these companies to pay for a house call service like what Uber Health could become.
The real question is how will this scale across the nation. Are other companies as willing as silicon valley startup companies to pay for a service like this for their employees? My guess is that they won’t be, because the competition for talent isn’t nearly as fierce.
The reality is that I think most of us love the idea of a house call medical visit. I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t love to avoid time spent waiting in the waiting room. However, we have to understand what that costs. There’s a reason why the house call doctor died in favor of office visits. They seem to be making a comeback, but I wonder if they’ll only work for the wealthy who don’t care about price.
Side Note: I just saw that Uber finally came to Las Vegas. That means you can try them out if you ever come and visit my beautiful town.