Uber wants to get you from your home to your doctor's office -- and you won't even need to open the Uber app. The company announced Thursday that it's teaming up with health care organizations to provide transportation for patients going to and from medical appointments.
The rides can be scheduled for patients through doctor's offices, by receptionists or other staffers. And they can be booked for immediate pickup or up to 30 days in advance. That means patients without a smartphone -- who wouldn't be able to use Uber otherwise -- can become Uber customers.
Instead of operating through an app, Uber Health will send its passengers' ride information through an SMS text message. The company also plans to introduce the option for passengers to receive a call with trip details to their landline instead. Drivers will still use the Uber smartphone app to pick up these passengers.
"Transportation barriers are the greatest for vulnerable populations," says Chris Weber, the general manager of Uber Health. "This service will provide reliable, comfortable transportation for patients."
Transportation is, indeed, a barrier to good health care. Affordable access to a vehicle is consistently associated with increased access to medical care, according to a study. Around 3.6 million Americans miss doctor's appointments or delay medical care due to a lack of transportation every year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.