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. This March, 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,” according to a press release.
Crisis Readiness and Response
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there became an acute need for technologies that connect vulnerable individuals with essential services and resources while reducing their risk of exposure to the virus. Rideshare companies have answered this call in various ways. As vehicles for hire, they have offered a safer alternative to high-risk public transportation settings. As broader technology platforms (e.g., Uber Eats), they have helped people remain safe and self-sufficient at home.
In a similar vein, a new partnership between Uber and the prescription delivery service NimbleRx aims to address another challenge stemming from the pandemic — one that recent USPS policy changes could exacerbate. As more people turned to mail-order prescriptions during the COVID-19 lockdown, mail delays raised concerns about the reliability of these services during a critical healthcare period. In light of recently announced changes that experts warn could have a snowball effect on the nation’s mail service, partnerships like that between Uber and NimbleRx could prove indispensable. As NimbleRx founder and CEO Talha Sattar told Forbes, by leveraging the Uber Direct delivery platform, the average wait time for a prescription will be under 30 minutes.
Broadening Access & Reach
Uber Health, which launched in 2018, is continuously refining its technology to address the needs and preferences of diverse patient populations. This March, 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.”
From Transportation Providers to Vehicles for SDoH 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.