They want to make health care as accessible as possible.

By Faith Brar

ICYDK transportation is a huge barrier to good health care in the United States. In fact, every year, 3.6 million Americans miss doctor's appointments or delay medical care because they have no way of getting there. (Related: How Often Do You Really Need to See the Doc?)

That's why Uber is teaming up with health care organizations across the country to make sure more patients make it to their doctor's appointments through a new service called Uber Health. The rideshare service hopes to provide patients with affordable and easy access to a vehicle, which would help increase the likelihood of them making it to their doctor's appointments and getting proper medical care when they need it most.

So how will this work exactly? When you go to book your next doctor's appointment, receptionists and other staff members at doctor's offices will schedule rides for patients either immediately or up to 30 days in advance. Many hospitals and health care providers will pay for the rides to and from their facilities, out of their own budgets, since that's way cheaper than the cost incurred from missed appointments. (Did you know you can now ask a doctor your weird health questions through Facebook Messenger?)

The best part is, you don't even need to have access to a smartphone or the Uber app to use the service. Instead, you will get automated texts to your mobile device (that means, it could even be a flip phone!) with all your ride information. Eventually, Uber hopes to extend the service to anyone who only has a landline by calling them with their ride details ahead of time. This could mean better healthcare for underserved communities regardless of their age, location, and access to technology. (Related: Make the Most of Your Time at the Doctor's Office)

Uber drivers will still use the app to pick up passengers, but they won't know whether someone is specifically using Uber Health. This measure is in place to make sure the service is in compliance with the federal HIPAA law, which keeps patients' medical needs and histories private.

So far, about a hundred health care organizations, including hospitals, clinics, rehab centers, senior care facilities, home care centers, and physical therapy centers have already used Uber Health's test program. You can expect the real thing to start rolling out gradually.


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