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How Rideshare Companies Are Breaking Down Healthcare Barriers

Rideshare giants Uber and Lyft have been expanding their healthcare footprint over the last several years, partnering with healthcare organizations to facilitate access to care for those without reliable transportation. But as healthcare needs grow increasingly complex, these organizations are playing a much larger role in addressing social determinants of health (SDoH).

More Than Just a Ride to the Doctor

With medical care estimated to be responsible for just 10–20% of a health outcome, rideshare companies are aiming to impact the other 80–90% by connecting people with social services and other basic necessities. Lyft, for example, offers discounted rides to and from grocery stores and farmers markets to eligible individuals living in food deserts. The organization also partnered with an SDoH technology company to “meet the increasing demand for health and social care services in communities across the country.”

Crisis Readiness and Response

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there became an urgent need for technologies that connect vulnerable individuals with essential services and resources while reducing their risk of exposure to the virus. Rideshare companies answered the call in various ways. As vehicles for hire, they offered a safer alternative to high-risk public transportation settings. As broader technology platforms (e.g., Uber Eats), they helped people remain safe and self-sufficient at home.

As more people turned to mail-order prescriptions during the COVID-19 lockdown, mail delays raised concerns about the timely delivery of life-saving medications. A partnership between Uber and the prescription delivery service NimbleRx helped to address this challenge by providing a safe and convenient alternative to picking up prescriptions in-store. Today, Uber Eats delivers prescriptions from participating NimbleRx pharmacies in as little as 2 hours. The partnership between Uber and NimbleRx is one example of a pandemic-age innovation solving longstanding healthcare challenges today. 

Broadening Access & Reach

Uber Health, which launched in 2018, is continuously refining its technology to address the needs and preferences of diverse patient populations. In March 2020, the company announced a host of new patient-centric features — direct driver messaging, multilingual notifications, patient round trips and more — to enhance the consumer experience and deliver on its mission to “help remove transportation as a barrier to care for those who need it most.”

Vehicles for Interventions

The rideshare industry is just one example of how non-traditional entrants are disrupting the healthcare status quo — and how continuous innovation is breaking down SDoH barriers to close gaps in care. When we begin to view health as more than just what happens in the clinical setting — and innovate and adapt technologies to address these wide-ranging needs — the result is higher quality, more efficient and more effective care for patients and populations.

Learn more about the role of technology in overcoming SDoH barriers to care here