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Uber Health is Back – At Least for Flu Shots

Posted on November 19, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Today between 11 AM and 3 PM you can open your Uber app, select the UberHealth option and receive a flu shot from a registered nurse. Passport Health will be administering the shots and it will be available in 35 cities around the country (presumably the cities where you find Passport Health).
Uber Health
The details of how it works aren’t really clear to me from the post on their website. For example, is it 11 AM to 3 PM in the local time zone or is that Pacific time? Also, if I understand it right, you’re going to pay $10 for a wellness pack which includes an UberHEALTH water bottle, tissues, hand sanitizer, lollipop and recyclable UberHEALTH tote. It looks like when they deliver this wellness pack, a Passport Health nurse will provide up to 10 “free” Flu shots. I guess you could say it’s a $10 flu shot since you have to buy the wellness pack to get the flu shot. Or 10 $1 flu shots assuming you have 10 friends around that want a flu shot as well. It’s still a good price for a flu shot and convenient that they come to you.

Unfortunately I’m in Las Vegas and that’s not one of the participating cities. So, I’d love to hear from readers how this goes and what the experience is really like. (Side Note: For new Uber users, here’s a link to get a free $15 ride on Uber.) They expect demand for Uber Health to be high. I guess that means they’re not willing to pay surge pricing to get you your Uber Health services? Of course, the real issue probably isn’t Uber drivers, but is instead the number of Passport Health nurses they have available to provide the flu shots. I guess they don’t have surge pricing available for nurses yet (chew on that idea).

In related news, John Brownstein, Ph.D., the Director of Computational Epidemiology Group at Boston Children’s Hospital and Professor, Department of Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School (that’s a mouthful), has joined Uber as their first health care adviser. We’ll see if they start offering more Uber Health services beyond just the flu shots not that they have John on board.

Their new health care adviser has also been published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and they aptly note the need for convenience in the methods we deliver health care. Convenience has become so important in all of our decisions, so it should come as no surprise that our decision to get health services (like a flu shot) or not is very dependent on how convenient it is to obtain that service.

What do you think of Uber’s involvement in health care? Will this become a really big part of their business and important component of health care? Is this the return of house calls?

The Return of the House Call? – UberHealth

Posted on October 24, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

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.